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April 2nd, 2012

Victory for BP As Court Disallows References to Previous Accidents

BP’s safety record is not exactly a secret to the maritime law lawyers at our firm. However, the company’s less-than-stellar record will not be admitted into court during the Deepwater Horizon trial.

The trial will apportion blame for the oil explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, which killed 11 workers. But, the court has disallowed any reference to former accidents involving BP. The ruling was delivered by a judge in New Orleans. This is the second major victory for BP in the Deepwater Horizon trial. Earlier, a judge had ruled that e-mails related to BPs activities, before and after the spill resulting from the explosion, should not be admitted into court.

US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans ruled that information about BP’s earlier accidents including the 2005 oil refinery explosion in Texas City, which killed 15 workers, and the corroded pipeline in Alaska in 2006, which resulted in an oil spill, should be kept out of the trial. The judge blocked introduction of evidence about these accidents.

According to the judge, these two incidents are not sufficiently similar to the Deepwater Horizon offshore explosion to allow evidence about these accidents to be admitted in court. Both of these incidents occurred on land, while the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the judge found that the circumstances of an explosion in an oil refinery are very different from a disaster on an oil rig.

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