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Judge throws out 'moratorium' claims against BP

By David Hammer

In a major decision that likely saves BP billions of dollars, a federal district judge has dismissed hundreds of so-called “moratorium” claims against BP – claims for losses from the government shutting down deepwater drilling after BP’s catastrophic 2010 well blowout.

The decision, announced Thursday evening by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, clears the largest remaining potential liability for BP from the massive Gulf oil spill. So far, BP has agreed or been ordered to pay more than $52 billion for cleanup, restoration, fines and compensation for the spill.

The question still remaining was whether BP was liable for the government’s decision to block exploratory drilling after the spill and allegedly slow-walk permits to resume that activity. The moratorium not only blocked the drilling, but, by extension, many of the support services and supply business for deepwater drilling that is the lifeblood of many coastal Louisiana businesses.

The Obama administration imposed a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in May 2010 -- and lifted it after five months – because the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, raised major concerns about the safety of all oil and gas exploration in deep sections of the Gulf of Mexico.

After hearing test moratorium cases in court, Barbier decided BP was not liable for the moratorium losses under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the law that made the company liable and grossly negligent for the damage caused by its 87-day oil spill.

Most important to his reasoning, Barbier said the moratorium after the BP spill was different from other kinds of government shutdowns after oil spills, such as closing a river after a tanker crash.

“There can be no doubt that the Government would not have imposed the Moratorium had the (BP well) blowout and oil spill not occurred,” he wrote in his decision. “However, the Moratorium addressed the risk of possible future blowouts and oil spills from wells other than (BP’s) and was motivated by perceived weaknesses of industry-wide safety measures.”

In other words, Barbier attributed the moratorium to other, yet-to-happen incidents, which, if there is any liability under the law for them, would not be BP’s.

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell declined comment Friday. Lead plaintiffs' attorneys Steve Herman and Jim Roy were unavailable for comment.

Two of the test moratorium claims Barbier considered came from ATP Oil and Gas and Black Elk, oil and gas companies that have ceased operations or gone bankrupt since the spill. But both of those firms had major incidents of their own after the moratorium.

ATP blamed the moratorium for its 2012 bankruptcy, but the trustee sued the company’s executives for reckless spending after the moratorium was over. The company also was charged with illegally dumping pollution into the Gulf and faces a potential $55 million fine.

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HISD LOSES TWO BIG LAWSUITS IN SWEEPING 38 PAGE VERDICT

June 11, 2017, 3:21 pm

Jury hits HISD with over $7,000,000.00 in damages on one suit, and denies any recovery to HISD as a Plaintiff in their own $13 Million dollar lawsuit.  

A unanimous Houston jury told HISD they were wrong to breach five construction contracts with a local building contractor Friday evening after a full day of deliberations. In the same 38 page verdict, the jury also told HISD that their countersuit against the contractor, Fort Bend Mechanical, along with their bonding agent, Hanover Insurance, and yet a third defendant HISD sued for defective field testing of foundations had ZERO merit and awarded no damages against any of the three defendants and awarded zero legal costs to HISD.  Fort Bend Mechanical had sought almost $9 Million in damages at trial for what they alleged were multiple and repeated contract violations over the course of six construction jobs with the school district emanating from the 2007 School Bond, which had provided for almost a billion dollars in renovations to over 100 HISD campuses.  The jury of 7 women and 5 men agreed with most of the complaints asserted by Fort Bend Mechanical, and awarded damages and legal fees in excess of $7 million dollars in their verdict, which came in early Friday evening in the 151st Harris County District Court before Judge Michael Engelhart.


4 New Lawsuits Filed Over the Waco Biker Shooting

May 8, 2017, 11:56 pm

What does Patch Adams have to do with the Waco Biker shooting?

A lot.  The overzealous Waco Police Department clearly stumbled and bumbled through the debacle of the Waco motorcycle tragedy of May 2015 at the Twin Peaks restaurant in what is likely the worst police operation initiated by law enforcement in the history of Texas, including the fiasco of the Branch Davidian storming that killed dozens of innocent women and children outside of Waco over 20 years ago (which resulted in far more civilian casualties than the recent gas attacks by Assad of Syria).  James Harris, a college student in Austin and a devout motorcycle rider, was one of the 200 motorcycle club members from the region taking a relaxing ride to Waco on the morning of Sunday, May 17, 2015, to hear what was going on legislatively in the motorcycling community through a briefing sponsored by the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents.


Father of Worker Killed at PCA Plant Explosion Files Multimillion Dollar Suit.

May 2, 2017, 10:02 am

The father of one of the three workers killed in a packaging facility explosion two months ago has now filed suit in Houston.  He explains his feelings and relationship with his son, facts known about the incident to date, and what he hopes to achieve with the lawsuit.  His attorney, Brent Coon of Houston, elaborates on the incident and expresses concern for the possible closing of the CSB, which is charged with investigating fatal chemical explosions across America, something that could significantly change industrial facility operations and increase safety and health risk factors. More details are below, and the office can be contacted for further information on this breaking story


Houston Police Department caught red-handed illegally engaging in a home invasion and covering it up by destroying security system: Damages Suit filed by Law Firm for Homeowner

March 3, 2017, 9:34 am

In one of the most egregious examples of police excess and violation of law perpetrated by HPD in recent times, two separate security systems from two different homeowners caught an HPD police officer and another uniformed officer illegally break into a Harris County home, destroy their surveillance system, illegally search the home with no one there, illegally go through their mail, and leave the home with the door open before the homeowners arrived back to their residence.


Jury Awards War Hero Over 1 Million Dollars

November 9, 2016, 3:22 pm

Today a jury verdict was returned regarding a lawsuit filed against Woven Metal Products, Inc. on behalf of Jacob Matthew Cadriel, who was killed on the job by a co-worker, Steven Damien Young.  This tragic incident took place on April 1, 2015. On that date and on Woven Metal Products, Inc.’s workplace premises, co-worker Steven Damien Young reached into his waistband, pulled out a 38-caliber handgun and shot and killed Jacob.  Young was arrested and charged with murder, and is now serving a 45 year sentence.


Deepwater Horizon Film Puts Spotlight on Disaster

October 3, 2016, 5:11 pm

The motion picture depicting the 2010 Gulf oil spill hits theaters nationwide this weekend.  So what, if anything, has changed since the Deepwater Horizon blast killed 11 oil rig workers?

Attorney Brent Coon represented one of the workers who escaped the rig; he hopes the film brings more attention to what really happened and how little regulation there is in the drilling industry still today.


Used cars with recalls being sold with 'no open recalls'

August 17, 2016, 8:49 am

Buying a used car instead of a new one almost always makes good economic sense, unless you end up in Ann Nogast's old 2011 Honda Pilot.

"Because it's going to be some innocent family that ends up the next possible fatality," Nogast said.


Seven injured in Explosion

August 14, 2016, 11:23 pm

Seven people were injured, including four critically, in an explosion at a Texas crude-oil plant, authorities said.


A Flood of Oil Spill Lawsuits Expected Against BP this Month

May 9, 2016, 9:02 am

Despite the $20 billion settlement BP PLC struck with the U.S. Department of Justice over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, tens of thousands of lawsuits could hit the courts this month, adding to the oil company’s ballooning costs.


STATEMENT TO THE TAXPAYERS OF JEFFERSON COUNTY AND THE MEDIA

May 2, 2016, 6:22 pm

Those who have followed the Jefferson County Appraisal District (JCAD) case and story for the last year should be already aware that we have spent the duration of that period attempting to collect information and data on what we believed was an unfair rescheduling of  1.5 level homes.



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A website created for the press to follow all the latest developments in BCA vs. BP.

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This website is a service for our referring counsel designed to assist in the client retaining process.

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