The families of the 11 men killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the fishermen who have lost their livelihood to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will today face BP in court for the first time.
The hearing in Idaho is to decide how to consolidate complaints submitted from around 200 plaintiffs in the wake of the United States’ worst ever environmental disaster.
The session will give trial lawyers a test run for the arguments they will make.
The hearing will bring together an array of people and players linked to the disaster resulting from the explosion on April 20 on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sank two days later.
Joining BP in court are Transocean, which leased the rig to the British firm, and Cameron International, which manufactured the blow-out preventer that should have shut down the well but failed to work properly.
Plaintiffs range from the families of the workers killed to Gulf fishermen whose catch has been contaminated by the spill, and who face financial ruin.
The proceedings before the Multidistrict Litigation Panel (MDL Panel) in Boise will determine where the hearings should take place and under which judge.
The panel is expected to to seek out a judge with no potential professional or financial conflict of interests.
Today’s hearing comes after a difficult week for BP in which chief executive Tony Hayward stepped down, leaving behind a £21 billion bill for the oil spill while there has also been a fire sale of assets worth over £19 billion.
Mr Hayward, who will receive a pension valued at £600,000 a year, left the company as it announced losses of $16.9 billion (£10.9 billion) in the first quarter.