A federal judge has found oil giant BP Plc "grossly negligent" for its role in the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a ruling that could add billions of dollars in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken so far for the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history. "The Court concludes that the discharge of oil was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct" by BP, the ruling from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said.
The company has shrunk since it was forced to sell assets to pay for the disaster aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 workers. Barbier has yet to assign damages from the spill under the federal Clean Water Act, though previous calculations by Reuters have shown fines could run to $17.6 billion in the costliest scenario. BP said it would immediately appeal the decision. "BP believes that the finding that it was grossly negligent with respect to the accident and that its activities at the Macondo well amounted to willful misconduct is not supported by the evidence at trial," it said in a statement.