BP insisted Tuesday that it will defend itself "vigorously" against gross negligence allegations during the Deepwater Horizon civil liability trial, which starts next Monday.
The first phase of the civil trial – to be held in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana – will be focused on the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident and will examine who should be held responsible and to what degree.
"We have always been open to settlements on reasonable terms, failing which we have always been prepared to defend our case at trial. Faced with demands that are excessive and not based on reality or the merits of the case, we are going to trial," said Rupert Bondy, Group General Counsel of BP. "We have confidence in our case and in the legal team representing the company and defending our interests."
The court will ultimately determine whether BP or any other party was grossly negligent, but BP strongly disputes this charge.
"Gross negligence is a very high bar that BP believes cannot be met in this case,” said Mr Bondy. “This was a tragic accident, resulting from multiple causes and involving multiple parties. We firmly believe we were not grossly negligent."
Last November, BP and the U.S. government agreed to resolve all Federal charges and all Securities and Exchange Commission claims connected to the April 2010 disaster in return for $4.5 billion settlement paid by BP.
As part of the deal, BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony counts of "misconduct or neglect of ships officers" relating to the loss of the lives of 11 people as a result of the accident. It also agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanour count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010 resulted in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.
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