Judge Carl Barbier, the federal judge in charge of the Gulf oil spill litigation, has outlined his plan for conducting the first trial designed to assign percentages of fault to the companies sued over last year’s deadly Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill. Judge Barbier, who oversees tens of thousands of claims arising out of the disaster, has scheduled the trial to start February 27, 2012, in three phases. The first phase will focus on causes of the well blowout, rig blast and release of oil referred to as the “incident phase.” The second phase deals with efforts to stop the gusher and quantify how much oil spilled from the well owned by BP PLC. The third phase will include testimony about spill cleanup. Judge Barbier will preside over the trial without a jury.
The proceedings are expected to last several months. Besides apportioning fault, the trial also is designed to determine whether rig owner Transocean can limit what it pays Claimants under maritime law. Thus far, trial preparations have included lawyers taking depositions of 176 witnesses. More than 5 million pages of documents have been generated and shared among the parties. Judge Barbier’s observation during a recent hearing that good progress in the case was being made is on target. I am quite sure the trial will start as scheduled without a hitch. We look forward to it.
Source: Associated Press
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