BP motion almost entirely redacted

Steve Korris Dec. 6, 2011, 3:25am


NEW ORLEANS – BP claims it has nothing to hide in the case of a former Halliburton engineer who switched sides in Deepwater Horizon litigation, but BP's proclamation of innocence hides almost everything.

BP blacked out all but formalities and generalities in a Nov. 23 response to Halliburton's motion for disqualification of Michael Viator and his employer, CSI Technologies.

BP lawyer Don Haycraft of New Orleans accused Halliburton Energy Services Inc. of mischaracterizing evidence and testimony, and he blacked out the next four lines.

He prepared a two page chart with mischaracterizations on the left and sworn testimony on the right, and he blacked out the right side.

"These are just selected examples," he wrote below the chart.

One sentence almost worth reading states, "BP inadvertently placed Mr. Viator's name on a list of potential visitors," but black bars cover the rest of the sentence.

When Halliburton lawyers saw his name on the list, they deposed him and asked U. S. District Judge Carl Barbier to kick him and CSI owner Fred Sabins off the case.

Halliburton and other companies defending personal injury and economic damage suits seek to minimize their liabilities by shifting blame to other defendants.

BP claims Halliburton botched the cementing of the rig, and Halliburton claims BP brought disaster on itself.

In Halliburton's disqualification motion, Donald Godwin of Dallas alleged that Viator revealed confidential information to Sabins and CSI.

He wrote that Viator resigned in March and began working for Sabins in April without Halliburton's knowledge.

He claims Viator transferred confidential files to a thumb drive, which he still has.

"Shortly after Viator began working for CSI and Sabins, BP suddenly turned its attention to gaining access to HESI's proprietary software and the data inputs," he wrote.

"BP's abrupt focus on accessing HESI's modeling software was occasioned by Viator's disclosure of HESI's work product, his post incident modeling."

Though BP responded behind black bars, Sabins and CSI openly took offense.

"Mr. Viator has performed no work related to this litigation while at CSI other than the literature review previously disclosed," Loretta Mince of New Orleans wrote on Nov. 23.

"During his testimony, Mr. Viator recalled that he might have a personal thumb drive and that, in addition to personal files such as his resume, the thumb drive may have some files on it that were saved to the thumb drive in the normal course of his employment with HESI.

"Mr. Viator testified unequivocally that he has not allowed any person to have access to that thumb drive since leaving Halliburton," she wrote.

She agreed that he should delete Halliburton files from the thumb drive.

She wrote that Halliburton assaulted the character of Viator, Sabins, and herself. Viator and Sabins would appear before Barbier to answer any questions, she wrote.

On Nov. 30, Halliburton claimed CSI and BP didn't dispute their main allegations.

Godwin wrote that CSI and BP failed to even address how Viator was assigned to access Halliburton's software or why his name was on the list.

"An expert cannot switch sides over the protests of the first retaining party," he wrote.

"The court may reasonably infer that confidential information was disclosed to Sabins and CSI because Viator's memory of confidential information is difficult to purge or effectively shield," he wrote.

"BP seeks to hold HESI responsible for the largest oil spill in history," he wrote.

BP pushed back on Dec. 5, accusing Halliburton of destroying evidence in the form of three dimensional models Viator helped create.

BP moved for sanctions, and filed a brief with black bars over dozens of secrets.

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