BP Supervisors Charged in the 2010 Death of 11 Oil Rig Workers are Assigned New Judge

Posted in BP British Petroleum,Louisiana Maritime News,Maritime Lawsuits on December 12, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, La. — Two BP supervisors, who were charged in the deaths of 11 oil rig workers who were killed in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, have been assigned a new judge.

A new judge was assigned Wednesday, Dec. 5, to the case against two BP supervisors charged in the deaths of 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010, after the previous judge disclosed his wife owns stock in one of the contractors.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers were allowed to submit a confidential request for another judge to take the case that was assigned to U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle, whose wife owned stock in Halliburton, the cement contractor on the rig.

The new judge assigned to the case is U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr, but the order doesn’t disclose which party or parties sought Judge Lemelle’s disqualification.
BP Oil Supervisors Accused of Manslughter are Assigned New Judge

BP supervisors, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, pleaded not guilty last month to manslaughter charges. They are accused of disregarding abnormally high pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout.

The Huffington Post reports:

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon, which was drilling at BP’s Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 when a blowout triggered a deadly explosion on the rig and started the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.

Vidrine “has critical knowledge of the events that happened at the time the well blew out,” Transocean attorney Sean Jordan told the judges. “There is just no doubt that he is a uniquely critical witness in this litigation.”

Vidrine’s attorneys argued in court papers that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s order is “wrong as a matter of law” and should be vacated. One of his lawyers, Jan Frankowski, urged the 5th Circuit judges to also consider alternatives to an exam by a court-appointed psychiatrist, such as allowing Barbier to review Vidrine’s medical records under seal.

Both supervisors could face 10 years in jail if convicted.

Posted by Louisiana maritime lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP