Louisiana AG Sues Transocean Over Deepwater Horizon Spill

September 20, 2010

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell filed an action against several Transocean entities in federal court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on Sept. 14, 2010, seeking declaratory relief against Transocean in association with the Deepwater Horizon Gulf spill.

The complaint asks the courts to make the ultimate decision as to Transocean’s liability. The U.S. Coast Guard has already named Transocean as a liable party, but the extent of the liability needs to be determined by the court, the AG’s office explained.

The state seeks to establish Transocean’s liability as a responsible party for the oil spill and the consequent damages and removal costs incurred by Louisiana.

The complaint, which includes the state’s natural resource trustees, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, seeks to establish the Transocean entities’ status as a responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and the Louisiana Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act (OSPRA) to the state of Louisiana for removal costs and certain damages as provided for under these laws.

OPA was signed into law on Aug. 18, 1990, in response to the Exxon Valdez spill and establishes a comprehensive Federal oil spill response and liability scheme. Under OPA, responsible parties are liable for costs of removal and certain damages, including damage to natural resources, loss of revenue, lost profits or earnings, costs of increased public services, and real or personal property damage.

The U.S. Coast Guard designated Transocean as a responsible party under OPA on April 28, 2010. Transocean has publicly asserted that it believes it is not liable for the oil from the Macondo Prospect and is only liable for discharges at or on the surface.

OPA and OSPRA establish that responsible parties are liable for discharges into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. Responsible parties are jointly and severally liable under OPA.

The Declaratory Judgment Complaint has been filed as a related case, for inclusion within, the federal Multidistrict Litigation proceedings currently pending before Judge Carl Barbier in the Eastern District: MDL-2179.

Triton Asset Leasing is also named in the AG’s court action, Reuters reported.

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