Beginning Next Week: InsideCounsel will become part of Corporate Counsel. Bringing these two industry-leading websites together will now give you comprehensive coverage of the full spectrum of issues affecting today's General Counsel at companies of all sizes. You will continue to receive expert analysis on key issues including corporate litigation, labor developments, tech initiatives and intellectual property, as well as Women, Influence & Power in Law (WIPL) professional development content. Plus we'll be serving all ALM legal publications from one interconnected platform, powered by, giving you easy access to additional relevant content from other InsideCounsel sister publications.

To prevent a disruption in service, you will be automatically redirected to the new site next week. Thank you for being a valued InsideCounsel reader!


More On

Feds to pursue gross negligence claims in BP oil spill case

The Department of Justice’s charges could stall a proposed $7.8 billion settlement with victims

After winning preliminary court approval in May, it seemed as though British Petroleum’s (BP) proposed $7.8 billion settlement with victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill would be finalized. That is, until the Department of Justice (DOJ) stepped in.

In court documents filed Tuesday, the DOJ accused the oil giant of gross negligence and willful misconduct, which could result in penalties of up to $21 billion if the company is found guilty. The agency’s decision may reduce the chances that the previously proposed settlement will win court approval.

In a scathing memo, the DOJ accused company leadership of ignoring “fundamental organizational safety-based systemic causes,” allowing “rig-based mechanical causes to fester and ultimately explode in a fireball of death, personal injury, economic catastrophe and environmental devastation.” It also claims that BP hid evidence and failed to properly investigate the causes behind the spill.

For its part, BP has denied liability for the spill. It has filed its own suits against Transocean Ltd., which owned the exploded oil rig, and Halliburton Co., which cemented the defective Macondo well.

The initial $7.8 billion settlement would have included hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs who suffered health problems or business losses following the five billion-barrel spill.

Read more at Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of the BP oil spill, see:

$7.8 billion BP settlement wins preliminary court approval

Florida attorney general asks judge to delay approval of BP oil spill settlement

BP reaches $7.8 billion settlement with victims of Gulf oil spill

Fines on horizon for BP, Transocean and Halliburton

Deepwater Horizon: One year later

Alanna Byrne

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.