Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan filed suit Wednesday against ten companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The suit seeks to compensate Harris County, Texas, for the significant economic losses it continues to suffer as a result of the spill.
Ryan claims the defendant companies, including BP, Transocean, Halliburton Energy Services and related companies, of engaging in grossly negligent, wanton and reckless conduct. The suit states that the companies had prior knowledge of problems with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, failed to properly maintain equipment and made irresponsible decisions about its operations.
The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks economic and compensatory damages, punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, other relief available under all applicable state and federal laws and any relief the Court deems just and appropriate. The amount of damages exceeds $23 million plus interest.
Ryan contends that the defendants’ actions resulted in the blowout of the Macondo well in April 2010, which caused the explosion, burning, and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig. As a result, crude oil and other pollutants were released into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These pollutants have damaged, are damaging, and will continue to damage the Gulf and Harris County’s economic livelihood.
“Harris County is a major hub for offshore oil exploration, as well as for Gulf Coast tourism,” Ryan said. “After the Gulf oil spill, our county suffered a significant reduction in economic activity, as shown by the loss of tens of millions of dollars in revenues from the hotel occupancy tax and business personal property taxes.
“Our lawsuit will demonstrate that the defendants showed a wanton disregard for the thousands of Harris County citizens and their businesses that are dependent on the Gulf of Mexico and its natural resources to make a living,” Ryan said. “Profits were more important than people and the environment.”
Defendants in the lawsuit include BP Exploration & Production, Inc.; BP America Production Company; BP p.l.c.; Transocean, LTD.; Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc.; Transocean Deepwater, Inc.; Transocean Holdings, LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.; and Sperry Drilling Services. These companies held the lease to the drilling site, owned and operated the oil rig or were responsible for the equipment and personnel on the rig. In addition, the suit claims the defendants concealed the fact that they did not have the proven equipment and technology to control the oil leak and hid the severity of the leak.
Harris County is among a number of governmental entities that have filed similar suits, including the State of Texas and the City of Houston.