Texas sues in federal court seeking unspecified damages, penalties from BP and others
The lawsuit relates to the months-long 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Texas lawsuit claims the defendants "engaged in willful and wanton misconduct"
Texas on Friday became the latest state to sue BP, Halliburton and others tied to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, alleging the parties “engaged in willful and wanton misconduct” and seeking penalties and damages “to the fullest extent allowed by law.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Beaumont, more than three years after one of the worst oil spills in American history. Listed defendants include Transocean, Halliburton and Anadarko, in addition to BP America.
Texas is not the first state to file such a lawsuit. Florida, for instance, did so last month, joining several other Gulf states. The Texas Attorney General’s office, in a news release Friday, said the state expects “its case to be consolidated” with others – all of them intent on recouping “damages associated with harm caused to the Gulf.”
The Texas lawsuit asks for money from BP and other parties for a host of reasons.
They include sales and hotel occupancy taxes that the state didn’t receive, it contends, because visitors and others didn’t go to its Gulf Coast communities due to the spill, as well as “lost” revenue for state park entrance and concession fees. The lawsuit also asks for civil penalties for every barrel as well as every day that oil was discharged into the Gulf.
The disaster began with a rig explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers. It took nearly three months to stop the gushing oil, which was done by placing a cap on the well nearly a mile beneath the water’s surface.
By then, though, the discharge had already caused major environmental damage, not to mention significantly affecting Gulf Coast economies.
The spill damaged coral reef formations, according to researchers. Scientists have previously confirmed that a plume of hydrocarbons from the well settled in the deep Gulf. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said about 59,200 barrels of oil a day flowed from the well.
In November, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that BP will plead guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the explosion and the spill. It agreed to pay $4.5 billion in government penalties. A month later, a federal judge signed off on BP’s settlement with businesses and people hard hit by the spill.
Thousands of businesses and individuals made claims in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, some coastal counties in eastern Texas and western Florida and adjacent Gulf waters and bays.
BP estimated a settlement of about $7.8 billion paid from a $20 billion trust. With the exception of seafood claims, there is no cap on the amount BP will pay to those who agree to the settlement.
But that didn’t fully settle the incident, as a number of states continue to press for damages.
Texas, for one, doesn’t specify in its lawsuit how much money it is seeking. Tom Kelley, a spokesman for that state’s attorney general, said there is no estimate as to how much the state is seeking – or might receive – adding “any damage amounts in this case would be determined by a jury verdict or final settlement.”
CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.