5-month trial delay ordered in Gulf oil spill manslaughter case

A federal judge Friday ordered a five-month trial delay in the case of two BP rig supervisors charged with manslaughter in the deaths of 11 workers who were killed when an undersea well owned by the British oil giant blew out in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr., in a decision filed in federal court in New Orleans, sided with arguments by lawyers for Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza that the case against them is complex and more time is needed for the defense to review documents  in the case.

However, the judge only pushed the trial from its previous date in January 2014 to June 2, 2014. Defense lawyers had asked for a nine-month delay. Federal prosecutors had opposed any delay, arguing that the case against the well-site leaders is straightforward.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

BP, as a company, already has  pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other criminal charges and agreed to pay a $4 billion criminal penalty. It also agreed to pay $525 million to settle related Securities and Exchange Commission charges.


About The Author

Veteran newsman currently covering energy for The Houston Chronicle. Spent 12 years at The Associated Press covering energy, airlines, general business news, legal affairs, politics and state and federal government issues. Won or shared numerous awards and award nominations for coverage of the Gulf oil spill, Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta courthouse shootings and the murders of two Dartmouth College professors. Prior to AP, worked at two daily newspapers in the Boston area.