TRANSOCEAN AGREES TO ALLOW OIL POLLUTION ACT CLAIMS TO PROCEED
On May 13, Transocean filed a limitation of liability action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston seeking to limit its liability for all damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe to approximately $27 million, which it claimed was the value of its oil platform rig. On the same day that Transocean filed its petition, the federal judge issued an injunction stopping all proceedings against Transocean, specifically including any claims brought under the Oil Pollution Act.
Many experts now estimate that the cost of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be billions of dollars while BP’s CEO Tony Hayward has admitted that the damages to individuals and companies from the oil leak will far exceed the $75 million federal limit, which does not include the costs for cleaning up the spill.
On May 17, Cunningham Bounds filed a motion in federal court in Houston to modify the injunction to make it clear that the injunction did not affect claims asserted against BP and other responsible parties, and to exclude from the injunction any claims brought under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
The Court heard argument on the motion to modify the injunction on May 25. Following the hearing, Transocean agreed to the entry of a more limited injunction, specifically excluding language which could have potentially stopped the claims against BP and others. Transocean also agreed to exclude from the injunction claims brought against it under the Oil Pollution Act.
This is a significant victory for all claimants who are seeking compensation from the devastating effects of the oil spill. While Cunningham Bounds believes Transocean’s motion for limitation will ultimately fail, the modification to the injunction will allow claims under the Oil Pollution Act to proceed without delay.