Halliburton Co. (HAL) said BP Plc (BP/)’s proposed settlement with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill unfairly creates a “collusive alliance” against the oil field services company in a scheduled multibillion-dollar trial.
“The settlement agreements will improperly align the interests of BP and the settling plaintiffs in any subsequent trial on liability in this court,” Donald Godwin, Halliburton’s lead lawyer, said in a 138-page filing yesterday that the company is seeking permission from a judge to submit in federal court in New Orleans.
BP’s deal creates an incentive for the plaintiffs who settled to change their strategy to minimize any determination of BP’s share of liability and argue for greater compensation from the other defendants, including Halliburton, Godwin said.
That “will prevent a true arms length adversarial trial,” he said.
More than 500 lawsuits by coastal property owners, tourism and fishing interests seeking damages from BP and other companies involved in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history are consolidated in New Orleans for pretrial processing. More than 4.1 million barrels of crude spilled from BP’s well after the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd. (RIG), and received cementing services from a Halliburton unit.
BP and a committee of lawyers representing the victims reached a partial settlement in March that would commit London- based BP to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve most economic-damages claims. That deal is awaiting approval by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who oversees the consolidated spill litigation.
Ellen Moskowitz, BP’s spokeswoman, and David Falkenstein, a spokesman for the victims lawyers’ committee, didn’t immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment on Halliburton’s position.