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Kevin Costner Must Face Suit Over Oil-Spill Cleanup Machine

Actor Kevin Costner must face a lawsuit in which he’s accused of cheating partners, including actor Stephen Baldwin, of their share of profits on floating oil-water separators sold to BP Plc to help clean up last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans today rejected Costner’s request to be dismissed from the case, which is set for a non-jury trial in May.

Costner’s former partners claim he tricked them into selling their shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions LLC for $1.9 million days before BP paid an $18 million deposit for the floating centrifuges. The machines ultimately played a small role in cleaning up the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Costner, whose movies include “Field of Dreams” and Waterworld,” is accused by his former partners of withholding knowledge of the BP sale from them “through a series of half-statements and non-disclosures in order to lure plaintiffs into a cheap sale of their interests,” Feldman said in a 32-page order. These claims satisfied the legal requirements for letting the case proceed to trial, Feldman said.

Wayne Lee, Costner’s attorney, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The case is Contogouris v. Westpac Resources LLC, 2:10-cv-04609, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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