The father of a man killed in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion has asked a U.S. judge to reject BP Plc’s $4 billion criminal plea deal as insufficient.
Billy Fred Anderson, father of deceased rig tool pusher Jason Anderson, suggested that London-based BP should be fined $45 billion, the company’s estimated annual revenue. He made the request under a federal law that allows crime victims to comment on plea deals and sentencing before they are formalized by the court.
“The plain and simple fact here is BP killed my son in their efforts to speed up operations, to save time and money not only at the expense of my son’s life, but also the lives of ten of his crew members,” Anderson said in a letter filed today in federal court in New Orleans.
“My son Jason made this statement to me before he left on his last and fatal tour,” Anderson said, quoting his son. “Dad, if BP continues to change procedures at the last minute to save time and money, even though we have told them it is not safe, they will end up killing us all.”
BP agreed last month to pay $4 billion in fines and penalties to resolve 11 counts of felony seaman’s manslaughter, one count of violating the Clean Water Act, one count of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one count of obstruction of Congress.
The deal will resolve the company’s criminal liability over the 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, which sparked the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. More than
4.9 million barrels of oil gushed from BP’s blown-out well off the Louisiana coast.
BP also agreed to pay $525 million to settle claims by securities regulators that company officials intentionally understated the size of the spill to prop up the stock price.
U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance is set to consider BP’s plea at a Jan. 29 hearing in New Orleans. Under the terms of the plea deal BP reached with federal prosecutors, Vance may only accept or reject the company’s plea, not alter its terms.
Anderson also complained that BP has refused to pay any restitution to parents of the deceased rig workers.
“As parents we were totally left out of everything up to this point and were constantly told ‘YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS TO RECOVER,’” he said in the filing, using capital letters. “BP intended for the parents to learn to live with our loss and grief while they hid behind the Death on the High Seas Act,” which sharply restricts maritime victims’ ability to recover damages. “Basically BP is saying your son’s life is worth nothing.”
Scott Dean, BP’s spokesman, said in an e-mail that “the company regrets the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region.”
“BP stepped up by responding to the spill, paying legitimate claims and funding restoration efforts in the Gulf. We apologize for our role in the accident, and as the company’s resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our action,” he said.
The case is U.S. v. BP Exploration and Production, 2:12-cr-0292, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).