The trial over liability for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was postponed to Feb. 25 so the lawyers won’t lose their accommodations to Super Bowl and Mardi Gras crowds, a New Orleans judge said.
The Super Bowl is set for Feb. 3, and the last day of Mardi Gras, the pre- Lenten festival, is Feb. 12. The trial, originally set for Jan. 14, will be delayed six weeks because lawyers involved have been told they’ll be “kicked out” of their hotel rooms, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said at a hearing today.
“It makes no sense to try and start the trial Jan. 14 then suspend it,” Barbier said. “We don’t want to ruin everybody’s holidays.”
The April 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo well killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and set off the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, leading to hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP, owner of the well, and its partners in the project.
BP agreed in March to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve most private plaintiffs’ claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries. The settlement, reached days before a scheduled trial on liability for the 2010 spill, didn’t cover federal or state government claims or lawsuits against other companies involved in the Macondo project.
Barbier will consider fault for the explosion and subsequent spill at the nonjury trial now set in February. He will also determine whether BP or other defendants were grossly negligent in their actions setting off the spill.