Criminal cases against two BP PLC (NYSE:BP) for deepwater horizon disaster

Two highest ranking BP PLC(NYSE:BP) supervisors were accused by the U.S justice department for manslaughter and seaman’s manslaughter. A criminal case was filed against them and they were found responsible for the death of 11 in the deepwater disaster.

Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the two BP PLC(NYSE:BP) CBPL supervisor have been charged with 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter and 11 counts seaman’s manslaughter.

In 1938 , The seaman’s manslaughter statute was passed by Congress which binds the act of captains, engineers and pilots responsible for deaths attributable to their conduct. This law is regarding deadly steamboat accidents.

Any negligence in the part of these people caused marine accidents. So to keep these people under control and to save the interest of the innocent passengers the law has been incorporated. Generally manslaughter charges require enough negligence caused by the accused party. But Seamen’s manslaughter remains silent over this. Seaman’s manslaughter is a little bit different from manslaughter.

In the case of U.S vs. O’Keefe in 2005 which resulted in a seaman’s manslaughter conviction in  the death of the wife of a captain who drowned in the Mississippi river. They hold the captain of the ship as the victim. It was not the case of negligence or disregards for human life, committed by the captain of the ship. But he was found ingested cocaine at the time of the accident. So it is said by he Judge Helen Berrigan in New Orleans that Its not that all should be found with negligence but violation of some rules or standard of care is also important. Omission of any such duties for which he is accountable may lead him to the court  according to this law.

The two BP PLC Employees are accused of failing to alert engineers insure that BP PL Macondo well was unstable. For this negligence and inattention to duties 11 people lost their lives.

On the other hand if we see the seaman’s manslaughter statute is for captain, engineer, pilot or other person employed on any steamboat or vessel, whose misconduct ,negligence or reckless behaviour cause damage to the general passengers. These two people give some illogical explanation that they are not the captain, engineer or pilot of the vessel so the charges will not hold good for them. They are the well site leaders and not coming under any of the categories. But well site leaders made important decisions regarding the course of drilling operations. The judge may have to decide whether “well site leaders” are coming under the “other person” category covered by the seaman’s manslaughter statute.

A research shows that the statute is not used since last decade and when used it was a case of convicted captain who is directly involved in the charge of navigation. The lawyers of those two persons declined to comment and intend to save their clients by saying they are innocent and the government charged them unfairly. The share price of  BP PLC(NYSE:BP) was up by 1.01% to close at $42.02.

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Published by Nicholas Maithya

Nicholas is a Financial Analyst by profession, who enjoys writing about investments, technological developments, business, economics and other financial topics at various financial publications. Join him here on as he endeavors to deliver to you the latest breaking news on the above mentioned fronts. Contact him by email at or follow Nicholas Kitonyi @nmaithyak on Twitter.

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