Barbier describes rough outline of BP oil spill liability trial

By Alejandro de los Rios | Aug 15, 2011


U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier today gave an idea of the structure for the first liability trial in the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation (MDL) set to take place in February 2012.

Speaking at a regularly scheduled status conference at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Barbier stated that the trial will take place in three phases.

The first phase of the trial, dubbed the "incident phase," will "address the conduct of various parties relative to the loss of control of the Macondo well and the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon," Barbier said.

In March, a government investigative team concluded that a bent drill pipe and defects in the blowout preventer (BOP) on the Macondo well led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and allowed oil to pour out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The second phase of the trial will discuss how much oil was spilled into the Gulf and who was responsible for the stemming and controlling the oil flow.

The third and final phase of the trial will deal with all other liability that occurred in the process of oil spill cleanup, including containment issues as relating to skimming, dispersants and the use of boom.

"I fully intend that this trial will start as scheduled," Barbier told the court.

This trial will solely look at which companies are liable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Transocean, Halliburton, Anadarko and several other companies co-owned the oil rig with BP.

Barbier said that he is already in talks with counsel for the plaintiffs and defendants on the mechanics of the trial, including protocol for the presentation of exhibits and deposition testimony.

Barber said he will sign an order adopting the trial plan he laid out in the next few days.

Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179

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