Jury Sides With Costner in BP Spill Lawsuit
18th June 2012
Kevin Costner said his reputation was at stake as he defended himself against accusations that he cheated fellow actor Stephen Baldwin out of millions of dollars in a lucrative BP contract for oil-cleaning machines after the 2010 spill in the Gulf.
Baldwin and a friend were seeking $17 million in damages, saying they could have made at least that much in the deal. A federal jury sided with Costner and gave them nothing. After a two-week trial, eight jurors deliberated for less than two hours before giving their decision in the lawsuit brought by Baldwin and friend, Spyridon Contogouris.
Baldwin referred questions about the verdict to his attorney, James Cobb. “We’re disappointed. We thought we proved rather convincingly that these two guys, Mr. Costner and Mr. Smith, defrauded us,” Cobb said. “The jury saw it a different way but we respect the jury’s verdict.”
Contogouris and Baldwin sold their shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions for $1.4 million and $500,000, respectively. The company was marketing the oil-separating centrifuges.Baldwin testified he would have held out for much more if he had known BP had committed to ordering 32 of them. Soon after they sold their shares, the oil giant made an $18 million deposit on a $52 million order.
Attorneys for Costner and Smith said Baldwin and Contogouris knew BP was preparing to order the machines when they walked away from the company rather than gamble for a more lucrative payout if BP signed a binding contract. At the time they sold their shares, BP only had signed a non-binding letter of intent, the defendants’ attorneys said.