District Court Dismisses $265 Billion OCSLA Suit Against BP


A U.S. District Court Judge in Houston dismissed a lawsuit by a former contractor on behalf of the United States against BP alleging claims under the False Claims Act that had been pending since 2009. In U.S. ex rel. Abbott v. BP Exploration and Production Inc., the former contractor for a BP brought the suit alleging that the oil giant had lied to the U.S. Department of the Interior to obtain exclusive offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico by failing to comply with federal safety regulations. The plaintiff cited to the lack of engineering design certification stamps in BP’s records. The environmental group, Food & Water Watch, joined as a plaintiff in the suit. Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the plaintiffs sought an injunction preventing BP from operating in the Atlantis field in the Gulf and treble damages in the amount of $256 billion. The case received immense attention after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010.

The court found that the plaintiffs were not qualified to sue because they had no direct, first-hand knowledge and instead based their claims on public information. In addition, discovery had not revealed any design errors. Federal regulators indicated that BP had complied with safety rules and that they did not rely on the stamps to ascertain the company’s compliance. The plaintiffs had survived a 2011 motion to dismiss when the court found that BP’s right to extract oil and gas from the Outer Continental Shelf was predicated on its compliance with the leases’ provisions, including compliance with all OCSLA regulations. The court ultimately rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that BP had damaged the United States, citing the hundreds of millions in federal royalties and bonuses paid under the leases.

Written by:

Published In:


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Baker Donelson | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.