Turning to the Courts: Suits Against BP Are Stacking Up


It has become increasingly clear over the last several weeks that the courts are ready to hold BP accountable for its actions, with various government agencies and investigations offering glimpses but hobbled by politics and industry influence. One of the more interesting plot twists so far is the high-level BP official who resigned just before the spill – citing safety concerns.

Documents filed Monday night (Feb. 14) in a Houston court say that Kevin Lacy, BP’s former senior vice president for drilling operations for the Gulf of Mexico, “reached a mutual agreement” with the company to resign in December 2009 because he believed the company was not adequately committed to improving safety protocols.

That’s a huge development for another new lawsuit seeking both compensatory and punitive damages against BP – a separate case from the class action in New Orleans. In the case filed in the U.S. District Court in the southern district of Texas, public pension funds in New York and Ohio are lead plaintiffs in alleging, in effect, that BP misled investors about the dangers of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Having a top executive (Mr. Lacy) quit over safety concerns amounts to a star witness.

You can bet this won’t be the last plot twist as more and more cases progress in the courts. As I’ve noted before, it’s one thing to spin issues on TV and sidestep questions from government officials, it’s quite another to offer sworn testimony before a federal judge.

Read about Mr. Lacy’s lawsuit here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110215/ap_on_re_us/us_gulf_oil_spill_lawsuit_3

See the story on the pension fund lawsuit here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110215/us_nm/us_bp_lawsuit_1

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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