(Updates with Benton’s claim in eighth paragraph.)
Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Transocean Ltd. and others involved in the operation of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a worker injured in the blast.
Oleander Benton, the Deepwater Horizon worker, said in a filing yesterday in federal court in New Orleans that all the claims have been “amicably settled,” and asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to dismiss the lawsuit.
Benton’s was among at least 40 lawsuits filed by survivors or relatives of the 126-member crew that was aboard the rig when it exploded off the Louisiana coast in April 2010, killing 11 and resulting in the worst oil spill in U.S. history. BP faces hundreds of other lawsuits, including from businesses that have had their properties or livelihoods damaged by the spill, and is pressing to settle claims before a trial over its liability.
“With a reasonable settlement, we will settle,” BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said Feb. 7 in a Bloomberg Television interview. “If it’s not a reasonable settlement, we’ll go to court.”
BP, based in London, is negotiating with U.S. officials to settle pollution claims, according to a person familiar with the talks, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The U.S. is seeking fines of as much as $4,300 for each of the 4.1 million barrels spilled after the explosion, which would total as much as $17.6 billion.
BP has already reached settlements with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Mitsui & Co.’s Moex Offshore LLC unit, partners in the well, and with Cameron International Corp., which provided blowout-prevention equipment. Anadarko agreed to pay $4 billion to BP, while Moex paid $1 billion and Cameron $250 million.
Those settlements let BP lower its reserve to cover costs related to the sinking of the rig to $37.2 billion from more than $40 billion, the company said this month.
Benton, who was employed as a seaman, had sought $5.5 million in damages for the injuries she suffered as a result of the explosion, according to her statement of claim. Benton blamed the defendants’ negligence and unseaworthiness of the rig for the injuries.
Benton also said she settled claims against Cameron and Halliburton Energy Services Inc. Details of the settlement weren’t disclosed in the court document.
Hundreds of lawsuits by fishermen, tour operators and state and local governments are being handled by Barbier. The judge is to determine whether BP or any of the other companies engaged in gross negligence or willful misconduct. He won’t consider criminal allegations.
The Justice Department previously said it was investigating possible criminal violations related to the blowout and spill. None of the companies has been charged with a crime.
The case is In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, 2-10-md-1979, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).
--With assistance from Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan and Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston. Editors: Michael Hytha, Lena Lee.
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