BP Plc won two legal victories on Friday, as a federal judge threw out racketeering claims made by the lead plaintiffs suing over last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and also set aside a lawsuit by partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
US District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans dismissed claims that BP violated a federal anti-racketeering law by defrauding US regulators in connection with the safety of its drilling operations, its ability to respond to any oil spill and its response to the spill.
Barbier said there was no proof that the plaintiffs, which include businesses and homeowners, were directly harmed in a way to sustain their claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act, or RICO. That law originally was intended to fight organised crime.
The RICO ruling does not affect other claims by hundreds of plaintiffs, who allege they lost earnings, revenue or rental income, or saw the value of their property decline as a result of the spill.
"While it is certainly a relief for BP to get these (RICO) claims off the table, it was the regular damage claims and possible punitive damages risks that have always been the biggest threat on the private litigation side," said David Logan, dean of Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Separately, Barbier put Anadarko's claims against BP on hold, citing a provision in the companies' operating agreement for the Macondo well that disputes be arbitrated.
Anadarko owned a 25 per cent stake in the blown-out Macondo well. BP had asked Anadarko to help pay for some of the cleanup and recovery costs, but the company has refused. Anadarko then filed a lawsuit in April, claiming it was not at fault for the explosion and spill.
From / Gulf News