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•  law - Legal News
Court reaffirms BP is liable in Gulf oil spill

•  National News     updated  2014/11/07 10:39


A federal appeals court panel has reaffirmed its ruling that BP is liable for federal Clean Water Act damages stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the latest loss for the oil giant as it fights court decisions that could ultimately bring $18 billion in penalties.

The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments that there were errors in its June 4 ruling on BP's Clean Water Act liability. The ruling released Wednesday night is not the final say from the court. BP and its minority partner in the Macondo well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., have a request pending for the full 15-member court to reconsider the issue.

The June order and Wednesday's follow-up were issued by Judges Fortunato Benavides, Carolyn Dineen King and James Dennis. They upheld U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling holding the well owners are liable.

BP and Anadarko had argued they were not liable because equipment failure on the leased rig Deepwater Horizon caused the April 2010 disaster. An explosion on the rig killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf in what became the nation's worst offshore oil disaster.

Barbier has also ruled that BP was "grossly negligent" in the disaster. BP has asked Barbier to reconsider that finding, which, if it stands, would be a factor in whether the water act penalties for the company reach an estimated $18 billion.

Under the Clean Water Act, a polluter can be forced to pay from $1,100 to $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil. The higher limit applies if the company is found grossly negligent — as BP was in Barbier's ruling. But penalties can be assessed at lower amounts.

Government experts estimated that 4.2 million barrels spilled into the Gulf. BP has urged Barbier to use an estimate of 2.45 million barrels in calculating any Clean Water Act penalties.

Barbier has scheduled a trial in January to help decide how much BP owes in federal Clean Water Act penalties.
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"Today the Oklahoma Supreme Court handed the women of Oklahoma a crucial victory by protecting their constitutional rights and restoring critical options for those seeking safe and legal abortion services," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is supporting efforts to fight the laws.

"Time and time again, courts are seeing that the true motive behind these underhanded and baseless restrictions is to push essential reproductive health care services out of reach for as many women as possible," she said.

A message seeking comment from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was not immediately returned. A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin said the governor was on the road on Election Day and was unsure if she could be reached for comment.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in October on behalf of an Oklahoma doctor who performs nearly half the state's abortions, seeking to block the law requiring admitting privileges law.

The physician, Dr. Larry Burns, said he had applied for admitting privileges at 16 nearby hospitals but had yet to get approval from any facility.

When Burns filed his lawsuit in October, Fallin — who signed the legislation into law in May— said she believed abortion was wrong and that she had been "proud to work with lawmakers in both parties to support legislation that protects the health and lives of both mothers and their unborn children."
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Court won't hear dispute over abortion clinic law

•  National News     updated  2014/11/04 13:22



The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal challenging the constitutionality of a Colorado law that prohibits people from obstructing entry to abortion clinics.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said the law does not restrict free speech or otherwise violate the rights of abortion protesters.

Protester Jo Ann Scott was convicted of violating the law after a jury found that she made physical contact with a woman trying to enter a Planned Parenthood clinic in Denver. An appeals court affirmed.

Scott argued that the law contains vague and overly broad terms that give police too much discretion to enforce it.
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