States May Seek GOM Spill Damages

A federal judge ruled Monday that Alabama and Louisiana may pursue punitive damages against BP and other companies involved in last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster. The oil spill leaked millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said that the states can seek claims for negligence and products liability under general maritime law. He dismissed claims that were made under state law.

"Because the States have alleged physical injury to proprietary interests and the other elements pertinent to negligence and products liability claims, the States have stated causes of action under general maritime law. Consequently, punitive damages may also be available to the States where their claims arise under general maritime law," Barbier said in a written decision.

In an emailed statement, BP said, "The court dismissed all claims brought under state law by Alabama and Louisiana ... The court's opinion makes clear, as BP has long maintained, that state law penalties are unavailable to plaintiffs who have sought them."

Barbier has set a start date of February 2012 for the trial over liabilities caused in the disaster.


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