Friday, May 4, 2012

US government fights BP's attempt to delay trial

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - The United States and Alabama say a trial to establish the liability of BP and other companies in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill should not be delayed for nearly a year, until after a hearing on the proposed $7.8 billion settlement of private claims.

Uncle Sam and Alabama on Tuesday filed separate statements, opposing BP's request to postpone the trial.

BP has asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the complex oil spill litigation, to postpone phase I of the trial until mid-January 2013.

Phase I was set to begin Feb. 27 this year, but was postponed indefinitely due to an eleventh-hour announcement by BP and plaintiff attorneys that a settlement had been reached for private-party economic and property damage claims that will affect as many as 125,000 people.

The settlement is pending Judge Barbier's approval. It affects only private parties and will have no bearing on the interests of the U.S. government or the Gulf states in the litigation.

In separate court filings on Tuesday, the United States and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who coordinates state interests with Louisiana Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell, said that BP's request for a delay is unfair, and that trial should begin this summer. Read More