Entries in Settlement (5)


BP Agrees to $4.5 Billion Gulf Spill Settlement; Three Former Employees Charged

PRNewsFoto(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department announced manslaughter charges Thursday against two BP officials involved in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, in which negligence by well site managers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling ship allegedly led to the country's biggest environmental disaster.

A third BP official has been charged for allegedly making false statements to Congress by providing inaccurate information to investigators about the rate at which oil was flowing from the well.

The criminal charges were announced along with a $4.5 billion settlement, with BP agreeing to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges and admitting responsibility for the deaths of 11 workers aboard Deepwater Horizon. The company has agreed to plead guilty to 11 counts of seaman's manslaughter, Clean Water and Migratory Bird Act violations and obstruction of Congress.

"Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that the deaths of the 11 men onboard the Deepwater Horizon could have been avoided," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said at a news conference in New Orleans. "The explosion of the rig was a disaster that resulted from BP's culture of privileging profit over prudence; and we allege that BP's most senior decision makers onboard the Deepwater Horizon negligently caused the explosion."


Under the settlement, BP has also agreed to a $525 million fine to resolve charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading investors about the rate of oil flow from the well.

Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, BP's well site leaders, were charged in the indictment with 11 counts of seaman's manslaughter and Clean Water Act violations. The charges alleged the "company men" on board Transocean's Deepwater Horizon rig failed to heed abnormal pressure readings in the well as final preparations were made for extracting the oil and gas.

"Kaluza and Vidrine were aware of continued, abnormal, high pressure on the drill pipe," the indictment alleged. "Despite these ongoing, glaring indications on the drill pipe that the well was not secure, defendants Kaluza and Vidrine again failed to phone engineers on shore to alert them to the problem, and failed to investigate any further. Instead defendants Kaluza and Vidrine deemed the negative testing a success."

Kaluza's attorneys, Shaun Clarke and David Gerger, decried the charges.

"After nearly three years and tens of millions of dollars in investigation, the government needs a scapegoat," the lawyers said in a prepared statement. "Bob was not an executive or high-level BP official. He was a dedicated rig worker who mourns his fallen co-workers every day."

Vidrine's attorney, Robert Habens, said his client was innocent and called the charges, "a miscarriage of justice."

David Rainey, former vice president of exploration at BP, has been charged with obstruction of Congress and making false statements for asserting that BP's spill estimates were about 5,000 barrels of oil per day, while he allegedly knew that other BP estimates showed oil flows of up to 92,000 barrels of oil per day being spilled. The charge concerned briefing and materials and a letter that was sent to Congress.

"The company lied and withheld documents, in order to make it seem as though less damage was being done to the environment than was actually occurring," Breuer said."Rainey allegedly cherry-picked pages from documents, withheld other documents altogether and lied to Congress and others in order to make the spill appear less catastrophic than it was.

Rainey's lawyers, Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig, said he did "absolutely nothing wrong."

"We are profoundly disappointed that the Department of Justice is attempting to turn a tragic accident and its tumultuous aftermath into criminal activity," they said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Rainey did not commit the crimes charged in the indictment, period."

As part of the settlement, BP will pay almost $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. BP has also agreed to take additional steps to enhance the safety of drilling in the Gulf.

"All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident, as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf Coast region," said Bob Dudley, BP's CEO. "From the outset, we 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 today's resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions."

Attorney General Eric Holder praised the settlement.

"The $4 billion in penalties and fines is the single largest criminal resolution in the history of the United States," Holder said, "and constitutes a major achievement toward fulfilling a promise that the Justice Department made nearly two years ago to respond to the consequences of this epic environmental disaster and seek justice on behalf of its victims."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Polo Tycoon John Goodman in $46 Million Settlement for DUI Death

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Convicted polo tycoon John Goodman agreed to a $46 million settlement with the parents of 23-year-old Scott Wilson who died in a drunken driving accident perpetrated by Goodman, according to court documents.

Lili and William Wilson, Scott Wilson's parents, will each receive $23 million in the settlement, the same age their son was when he was killed.

All parties involved had previously been tight-lipped about the settlement amount in the civil suit over the crash after Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate in the civil suit.

The amount was disclosed in a motion for bond filed Wednesday.

The attorneys filed the motion in hopes of being able to get Goodman out of prison pending his appeal and the outcome of his motion for a new trial. Earlier this week, Goodman's attorneys filed a motion for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March. He could face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced April 30.

Goodman's Bentley slammed into Scott Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, a 23-year-old engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

The multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach claimed his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.

Attorneys for both Lili and William Wilson did not respond to ABC News requests for comment Friday.

But Christian Searcy, Lili Wilson's attorney, told the Palm Beach Post that the money did not come from Goodman's fortune, but, rather, from insurance companies. He also noted that $6 million of the settlement came from The Player's Club, the restaurant where Goodman had been drinking before the crash.

The motion filed Monday in a Palm Beach County court, asked for a new trial or for Goodman's convictions to be overturned.

In the motion, an alternate juror reported the alleged instances of misconduct to Goodman's lawyers, saying "it was clear" to her the jurors had made up their minds before the end of the trial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lauren Scruggs Rejects $200K Settlement in Propeller Accident

ABC News(DALLAS) -- Injured model and fashion editor Lauren Scruggs, who is recovering from a Dec. 3 plane propeller accident in which she lost her left hand and left eye, rejected a $200,000 settlement offer from the plane’s insurance company and will sue for more, according to court documents.

Legal documents obtained by Courthouse News Service that were filed by Scruggs in Dallas County, Texas, on March 12 claim that representatives from the insurance company verbally offered to pay her a total of $200,000 -- two sub-limit payments of $100,000 from two separate policies that covered the plane involved in the accident.

The 23-year-old model and fashion editor had just landed after viewing Christmas lights from above on Dec. 3 when she walked into a moving airplane propeller at a private airport north of Dallas.  The pilot, defendant Curt Richmond, left the propeller running while Scruggs exited the plane. According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Administration in January, the pilot claims he tried to warn Scruggs and told her walk behind the airplane. The spinning propeller sliced off her hand and doctors were forced to remove her left eye weeks later.

Scruggs underwent intensive physical therapy, was fitted with a prosthetic eye last month and has met with prosthetic arm experts, according to her mother Cheryl Scruggs, who has documented her daughter's struggles and recovery on her blog.

In the court papers, Scruggs said that the plane's insurance company, Aggressive Insurance Services, explained that under the policies, the $100,000 sub-limit is the most they can pay out to a "passenger."

Scruggs believes that she was not a "passenger" because "she was not in the aircraft or getting in or out of it at the time of the incident," and should not be limited to the $100,000 passenger sub-limit.

Both policies define the term "passenger" as "...any person, other than the pilot, who is in the Aircraft or getting in or out of it."

While the insurance company holds that you remain a "passenger" after you exit the plane and are on the tarmac, Scruggs is challenging that definition. Scruggs has asked for the court for declaratory judgment -- to determine the interpretation of the term "passenger" and "getting out of" the plane, as well as cover court costs, attorney fees and "all other relief to which plaintiff is entitled."

Her lawyer had no immediate response to ABC News' request for comment.

Scruggs has picked up the pieces of her life since the accident. She resumed writing fashion commentary on her LoLo website, took to Twitter and shared photos of a family ski vacation last month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Schwarzenegger to Give Maria Shriver a 'Generous Settlement'

Lee Celano/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to give Maria Shriver a "very generous divorce settlement" that will be beyond what is required under California law, reports

A source revealed to Radar, "Arnold realizes he is to blame for the collapse of his marriage.  Maria was a loving wife and mother, and he doesn't think that any amount of money can minimize what he has put her through."

With Schwarzenegger’s fortune estimated to be between $400 million and $700 million, Shriver could receive several hundred million dollars.

The source added, "This is going to be a very amicable divorce, and it won't be played out in the media.  Neither one of them wants that.  Arnold hasn't lost his mind, he is going to be giving away his fortune to her.  He wants to show his children that he is taking responsibility for his actions."

Shriver filed for divorce last week.  Schwarzenegger is expected to file his response to Shriver's petition within the next two weeks, as required by California state law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


WTC Workers to Accept Landmark Settlement

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Workers who sued the city of New York over toxic emissions at the World Trade Center in the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have until Monday to opt into a landmark $760 million settlement.  For the settlement to go through, 95 percent must opt in; so far, 85 percent have done so and the remaining ten percent are expected to join in.

The settlement could total as much as $815 million.

There are thousands of police officers, members of the New York Fire Department and other emergency responders involved.  Thousands of other individuals and companies have filed lawsuits stemming from the cleanup at ground zero.  Many of the plaintiffs claim they suffer lung disease and other health problems because of the pulverized dust that filled the air when the towers collapsed.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio