BP, Transocean, and several other companies have settled lawsuits with some of the individuals injured in the April 2010 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed eleven people and caused one of the worst oil spills in history. The companies have also settled some of the claims pending between the various businesses involved with the drilling operation. Still, the situation is a mess of competing claims and lawsuits that may take years to unravel, as injured plaintiffs seek to separate their claims from several thousand consolidated claims for damages.
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean and operated by BP, was a deep water rig positioned in the Gulf about 48 miles south of the Louisiana coast. It had drilled the deepest oil well in history, at more than 35,000 feet, in late 2009, and at the time of the explosion was drilling in an area called Mississippi Canyon Block 252. The explosion occurred on April 20, 2010, when a blowout, typically the result of a failure in pressure control systems, killed eleven workers on the rig and created a fireball visible for miles. The rig sank, while the well, located over 4,000 feet underwater, continued gushing and caused the massive oil spill.
A crew of 126 people was on the rig at the time, including a visiting group of Transocean and BP executives. Nearly all the survivors suffered injury. The person with the worst injuries, according to Bloomberg, is Buddy Trahan, a Transocean executive who suffered twelve broken bones when the explosion threw him thirty feet through a wall and buried him under rubble. A crew member freed him from the wreckage and found that a door hinge had nearly pierced his carotid artery. Trahan and numerous other individuals sued BP and other companies for negligence. Businesses and individuals affected by the explosion, including fishermen and tour companies, also have claims pending. State and federal governments have claims against various companies for damages and regulatory infractions.
The injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been delayed by disputes between BP, Transocean, and other companies over liability for the explosion itself and various property damage claims. Transocean recovered for the total loss of the rig, but other companies lost equipment as well. BP has made claims against manufacturers whose equipment may have caused or contributed to the explosion. The court consolidated several thousand claims for property damages and other economic injuries with the personal injury claims in order to facilitate pretrial processes. Around twelve personal injury claims are still pending.
One worker injured in the explosion, Oleander Benton, settled her federal lawsuit against BP, Transocean, and others. Benton asked a U.S. district judge in New Orleans to dismiss the suit in February. She had sought $5.5 million in compensation for her injuries, but the exact details of the settlement have not been disclosed.
Continue reading ›