JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed suit in state and federal courts Friday seeking to recover damages from BP that resulted from the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster.
Former Mississippi Attorney General Mike C. Moore and attorney William M. Quin II were hired by Hood to represent the state in the actions.
The state suit was filed in the Circuit Court of Harrison County and raises state law claims seeking recovery of statutory penalties, such as the Coastal Wetlands Protection Act and other damages under Mississippi State law.
The separate federal suit was filed in the Southern District of Mississippi, Gulfport Division, seeking other damages available under federal law.
In a statement released on the Mississippi Attorney General website, Hood stated, "I have worked very hard to get BP to discuss a reasonable settlement. BP refused to negotiate, forcing the state to take this action. BP would not even agree to waive the statute of limitations while we negotiated, which could have prevented the State from having to file suit and saved both them and the taxpayers a lot of money paying lawyers and fighting in the courts."
BP has not issued a response to filing of the lawsuits.
Anticipating BP's removal of the state case to federal court as well, Hood further stated, "I am sure BP and the other defendants will seek to delay and deny the State our day in court by seeking to remove our state law suit to federal court ... While claims filed by other states have languished in federal court, I do not want to see that happen to us. States are separate sovereigns entitled to litigate their state law claims in state courts."
"At approximately 9:45 p.m. on April 20, 2010," the seventy-seven page federal complaint begins, "the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible drilling rig sustained an uncontrolled well blowout at the Macondo prospect within Mississippi Canyon Block 252 of the Gulf of Mexico, over forty miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana.
"The blowout caused the rig to burst into flames, capsize and sink to the bed of the Gulf two days later, and ultimately led to an unprecedented oil spill that damaged, depleted and destroyed marine, estuarine and coastal environments in the State of Mississippi, and caused the State of Mississippi to sustain losses of tax revenue, economic loss, and the other damage, including, but not limited to, damage to its natural resources."
According to the Complaint, Hood brought the civil action "to ensure the State of Mississippi is compensated for the damages and tax losses it has incurred and will continue to incur as a result of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and attendant Oil Spill. The State also seeks recovery of punitive damages sufficient to deter the defendants to this action from engaging in actions and inactions of gross negligence and recklessness such as caused the catastrophe and damages at issue in this lawsuit."
The defendants in the suit are BP Exploration & Production Inc., BP America Production Company, Inc., BP P.L.C., Transocean LTD., Transocean Holdings, LLC, Triton Asset Leasing GmbH, Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., Sperry Drilling Services, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Co., and Anadarko E&P Company LP.
The suit alleges that "BP downplayed the severity of the Oil Spill, was unprepared for the massive clean-up effort that would later be required and has failed to fulfill its obligation to properly rectify and monitor the damage it has caused."
"The failure to plan, monitor, control, mitigate, and clean up directly resulted from decades-long histories of organizational malfunction and myopia on the part of the Defendants."
The complaint goes into meticulous details regarding the roles that each of the defendants played in the disaster and makes numerous allegations as to where each defendant failed.
"All the evidence of Defendants' misguided priorities and imprudent decisions regarding the Macondo well and the Deepwater Horizon described above demonstrates a culture of complacency on the part of the Defendants ... Despite a history of catastrophes and close calls, BP has been chronically unable or willing to learn from its many mistakes.
"BP has consistently demonstrated that it will choose profit before safety at the expense of human lives and the environment. Moreover, the company's actions imply that it would rather pay fines than comply with U.S. law, as paying those fines, if and when its negligence is actually discovered, is ultimately a cheaper long-term strategy than regulatory compliance."
The lawsuit asks for economic and compensatory damages in amounts to be determined at trial, punitive damages, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees and costs of litigation, declaratory and injunctive relief, and "such other and further relief available under all applicable state and federal laws and any relief the Court deems just and appropriate."