Halliburton says BP motion a ‘sideshow’
Saying it hasn't violated any court order, Halliburton asked a
federal judge Tuesday to throw out BP's request for sanctions against it
in a dispute over key evidence in the Gulf oil spill trial.
motion, which is the latest chapter in its book of finger-pointing,
seeks to create a mid-trial sideshow to divert attention away from its
own egregious acts and omissions that caused the explosions on and the
sinking of the Deepwater Horizon," Halliburton lawyer Don Godwin said in a response filed in federal court in New Orleans.
At issue is Halliburton's failure for nearly three years to turn over to the Justice Department
and other parties in the case cement samples possibly tied to the
ill-fated Macondo well drilling project. Godwin said earlier this month
that Halliburton, the cement contractor on the project, only recently
discovered the samples.
BP is seeking sanctions against Halliburton in the on- going civil trial before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to apportion blame for the rig explosion that killed 11 men and caused the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever.
states of Alabama and Louisiana have filed notices with the court that
they also believe sanctions are warranted, though they don't agree with
some of BP's requests for special findings by the judge. The Justice
Department has said that if the court imposes sanctions upon
Halliburton, they should be crafted in a way that causes no prejudice to
Possible sanctions could include preventing
Halliburton from using certain defenses at the trial, possibly making it
harder for the company to challenge a finding of gross negligence.
Such a finding would allow punitive damages against the company for the disaster.
But Halliburton said it did not act in contempt of any court orders.
wrote in his response on behalf of Halliburton that BP "failed to bring
forth any evidence that Halliburton has acted with 'gross
indifference,' 'willful disobedience,' 'deliberate callousness' or
'gross negligence.' "
Godwin said that at the heart of the
request for sanctions is the implication that Halliburton hid the cement
samples from BP and other parties involved in the litigation.
he said that in storing the materials and not finding them until
recently, there is no evidence that Halliburton's actions were the
"result of anything other than a simple misunderstanding."
The trial, meanwhile, is in its fifth week. Billions of dollars are at stake.
former Halliburton lab manager testified last week that a company
official asked him not to record results of a cement stability test
related to BP's well that he conducted after the 2010 disaster off the
coast of Louisiana.
The Macondo well blew out a mile beneath the
sea, triggering an explosion on the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon
drilling rig. Halliburton provided the cement that failed to keep oil
and gas from flowing into the well as it was being abandoned temporarily
for production later.
Barbier has refused to drop gross negligence claims against Halliburton, BP and Transocean at this stage in the trial.
He did dismiss gross negligence claims against two lesser players in the trial, M-I Swaco and Cameron.