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Government Drops Manslaughter Charges Against BP Employees

In addition to the civil claims and criminal penalties, four BP employees were individually charged with crimes relating to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Earlier this year, a New Orleans jury found Dave Rainey, a BP executive, not guilty of lying to federal investigators about the size of the oil spill. Then, in November, a BP engineer pleaded guilty to deleting text messages relating to the spill volume.

The government still had involuntary manslaughter charges pending against two other BP employees, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, but now those charges have been dismissed.

Reason for Why BP Employee Manslaughter Charges Dropped

The government reportedly reevaluated their case after testimony came out of the civil case regarding the causes of the explosion and spill. This led to the conclusion that they would not be able to meet their burden of proof for involuntary manslaughter.

The government originally sought seaman’s manslaughter charges against Kaluza and Vidrine. Seaman’s manslaughter requires only a showing of ordinary negligence, whereas involuntary manslaughter requires proof of gross negligence (wanton disregard for human life). But, the seaman’s manslaughter charges were dismissed after the court ruled that Kaluza and Vidrine “were not responsible for the travel of the Deepwater Horizon.”

Remaining Criminal Charges

Kaluza and Vidrine were each also charged with violating the United States Clean Water Act. Following the dismissal of the involuntary manslaughter charges, Vidrine pleaded guilty to the Clean Water Act violation.

Kaluza, on the other hand, has refused to plead guilty to any charges, opting instead to take his chances with a judge and jury. Only time will tell if this is the prudent decision.

Although it has not yet been approved, Vidrine’s plea agreement calls for payment of $50,000 in restitution, 100 hours of community service, and 10 years of probation.

Louisiana Offshore Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an offshore accident, whether on a drillship, semisubmersible drilling rig, vessel, or platform, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call (504) 564-7342 to discuss your potential case with a maritime lawyer today.


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