A federal judge has allowed victims, who suffered financial losses from the BP oil rig explosion and resulting leak last year, to seek punitive damages for their losses. Defendants in the tragedy, including BP had claimed that plaintiffs were not eligible for punitive damages under the US Oil Pollution Act. Judge Carl Barbier has disagreed, allowing punitive damages claims to proceed. Punitive damages are awarded when a company has been extremely negligent, causing serious losses. These damages are typically awarded to punish a defendant, and also to serve as a warning to others. However, for punitive damages to be awarded in the BP case, plaintiffs would have to prove extreme negligence. The judge also allowed a number of other claims to proceed. For instance, the judge allowed boat owners who suffered vessel damage during the cleanup efforts, to file claims. Additionally, companies who lost revenues after the Obama administration imposed a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, were also allowed to file their claims for loss of revenues. However, the judge did not agree on the liability of minority well owners Anadarko and Mitsui, dismissing claims of maritime negligence against these two companies. The judge also dismissed any claims filed under state law. The claims must now be filed under maritime or environmental laws. The judge's rulings this week affect more than 100,000 complaints related to the BP-Transocean oil rig explosion last year. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers, and triggered the biggest environment disaster in US history. Brian Beckcom is a maritime lawyer who represents crewmembers injured in towboat, cargo vessel, tanker and container ship accidents across the globe. If you have been injured on a vessel, contact the maritime lawyers at Vujasinovic and Beckcom for a free evaluation of your case. You can also download a copy of this report: The Insider's Guide to Winning Your Maritime Injury Case.
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