United States Government Sues BP for Oil Spill Disaster

April 20 is a date that people in the Gulf region will remember forever. When the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer failed, we all suffered the consequences. Families lost loved ones. Workers lost their jobs. Fishermen, oil workers, restaurant owners … nearly everyone in Louisiana has felt the effects of the oil spill.
Yesterday, the United States federal government filed a milwaukee workers compensation lawsuit in federal court in New Orleans to try to recover some of the damages caused by this oil rig accident. The Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act were passed to hold companies accountable when their actions lead to major oil spills. The Justice Department is seeking damages from BP and eight other companies involved in the oil spill.
The basic goal of the government will be to prove that BP and other companies’ failure to follow safe drilling practices, use appropriate technology and maintain the equipment on the Deepwater Horizon led to the spill. Additionally, if the government can prove “gross negligence,” the financial costs to the companies could be even greater.
This is the first legal filing we have seen from the government regarding the BP oil spill. And even this was fairly bare-bones as far as legal filings go. The federal judge set yesterday as the deadline for civil filings regarding the spill, so the government likely felt pressured to file something. Officials have already indicated that additional companies may be added to the lawsuit and new complaints could surface.
If the government is successful, BP and other companies like Transocean could be required to pay between $1,100 and $4,300 for every barrel of spilled oil. Although there are disputes regarding the exact amount of oil that was spilled, many have estimated that close to five million barrels were spilled. By that estimate, these companies could be held responsible to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.
While this case does not directly benefit the individual victims of the oil spill, it does highlight the other hundreds of maritime accident lawsuits that have been filed by families, workers and business owners in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.

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