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Florida, Mississippi sue BP, others for Macondo spill

22 Apr 2013, 4.54 pm GMT

Houston, 22 April (Argus) — The state of Florida is suing BP and Halliburton for economic losses related to the April 2010 Macondo oil spill, saying the two companies failed to assure proper well control.

The state is seeking an unspecified amount in economic, punitive and compensatory damages, citing negligence by the two companies.

“The spill and the resulting contamination have caused and will continue to cause loss of revenue to individuals and businesses, thereby causing a loss of revenue to Florida,” the state said in its 20 April filing to the US district court in Panama City, Florida. Under state and maritime laws, Florida is “entitled to an award of punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial,” the filing said.

“Due to the released hydrocarbons and their contamination of the Gulf of Mexico, Florida suffered a dramatic decrease in the number of people visiting and patronizing the state,” the suit said.

The state of Mississippi late last week moved to sue BP and unspecified “others” as it moves to seek to recover damages from alleged caused by the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in which 11 people died.

Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood said “I have worked very hard to get BP to discuss a reasonable settlement. BP refused to negotiate, forcing the state to take this action.”

The state filed suits in a local and federal district courts, saying the spill “caused the state to sustain losses of tax revenue, economic loss, and other damages, including damages to its natural resources.”

A BP spokesman declined to comment on the states' lawsuits. Separately, a Halliburton executive earlier said it is an “advanced stage” of court-facilitated settlement discussions with plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation trial in New Orleans, Louisiana. But the states of Florida and Mississippi are not part of that multi-district group.

As of 31 December 2012, BP had paid out $7.7bn for economic losses and was anticipating future claims of another $800mn for a total of $8.5bn. Company officials have since said they cannot estimate the final tally they might pay out for economic losses.

Testimony in the first phase of the federal Macondo trial ended last week, though it could be months before a US judge issues a ruling that apportions blame for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. US district court judge Carl Barbier is overseeing the sprawling non-jury civil trial where as much as $17.5bn in environmental penalties could be at stake. Defendants include Transocean, Halliburton, and BP.

Discovery is now underway for the second phase of the trial, set to start 16 September. The second of three planned phases will probe what various parties did to control the flow of oil and quantify how much oil escaped into the Gulf of Mexico.

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