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Bp Well-Site Managers’ Spill Manslaughter Case Dropped

Autor:   •  December 4, 2017  •  4,025 Words (17 Pages)  •  226 Views

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(Bloomberg) -- Federal prosecutors dropped manslaughter charges against BP Plc’s two top employees on the doomed oil rig that blew up in 2010, the latest setback for investigators probing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The dismissal of the most serious charges against Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, who supervised testing on the Macondo well, means the two won’t stand trial for the deaths of 11 men killed in the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon. Kaluza, 65, and Vidrine, 68, were among four BP workers to face charges in the aftermath of the spill.

The U.S. accused the pair of ignoring multiple signals that the well was dangerously unstable before the explosion. Kaluza and Vidrine were each charged with 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of violating the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Vidrine pleaded guilty Wednesday to the pollution count. Kaluza will continue to fight the remaining charge, said his lawyer Shaun Clarke. Trial on the final count begins Feb. 16 in New Orleans.

The two BP well-site managers had earlier won dismissal of 11 counts of seaman’s manslaughter, a separate crime, after a court ruled that the victims weren’t seamen.

VP acquitted

David Rainey, BP’s former vice president of exploration, won acquittal in June of a federal charge that he lied to prosecutors in connection with company estimates of the size of spill. Kurt Mix, a former BP engineer, pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor of deleting text messages related to spill estimates, following reversal of an earlier conviction.

The Justice Department dropped the involuntary manslaughter charges against Kaluza and Vidrine after deciding it couldn’t prove its case against the men, agency spokesman Peter Carr said Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors re-evaluated charges against Kaluza and Vidrine after hearing testimony in the civil trials over the causes of the spill. “A number of witnesses have testified multiple times since the indictment was brought, and the factual landscape has changed,” Carr said in an e-mail.

Legal standard

The department couldn’t meet the legal standard for involuntary manslaughter, defined as “wanton or reckless disregard for human life,” he said. The U.S. believed it could justify seaman’s manslaughter charges, but an appeals court refused to reinstate those counts.

Vidrine agreed to perform 100 hours of community service, complete 10 months of probation, and pay $50,000 in restitution, Carr said. The judge must still approve the deal, whose terms can’t be altered, Carr said. A single count of violating the U.S. Clean Water Act is punishable by a fine and as long as a year in jail.

Vidrine, who was BP’s night-shift company man aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, said in a statement accompanying his plea that he was aware of abnormal pressure readings during key tests conducted before the explosion to determine whether the well was safely sealed against leaks. These readings indicated hydrocarbons might be seeping into the well, he agreed in the statement. Hydrocarbons rising from the well reached an ignition source on the rig, triggering the explosion and fire.

The well-site managers were singled out as scapegoats for failures by multiple individuals and companies involved in the Macondo drilling operation, Clarke, Kaluza’s lawyer, said at their initial arraignment in November 2012.

‘Nothing has changed’

“Nothing has changed for Bob Kaluza since he was arraigned, when he said he was innocent and that he’d trust his fate to the judge and jury,” Clarke said Wednesday in a phone interview. “As long as there’s a criminal charge out there, he intends to completely clear his name at trial.”

BP agreed in 2012 to plead guilty to 14 charges, including 11 of manslaughter, and pay $4 billion to resolve all criminal claims against it arising from the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

The company reached a $20.8 billion settlement this year with the U.S. and five states to settle civil pollution claims. BP has set aside a total of $55 billion to pay for the disaster.

The case is U.S. v. Kaluza, 12-cr-00265, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

There has been so much dynamic change in how the insurance industry leverages data and analytics to run their businesses.

In fact, insurers are early analytic adopters — actuarial science has been around since the late 1700s! But for the next 200-plus years, insurers continued to focus their analytic efforts on perfecting actuarial assumptions so that they could take on prudent risk. The analytic conversation has traditionally always been, "How can I underwrite this risk?" and not necessarily "How can I help this insured?"

In the past 10 years or so, we’ve seen a dramatic change in both the proliferation of available data and the customer dynamic.

Insurers are leveraging data to more profitably underwrite new risk segments, take on new markets, and create new products. The industry has even made good inroads into digital services strategies to better support end customers and agents in online channels. But the industry hasn’t pulled all these risk, underwriting and service strategies together to create a positive experience and strengthen our customer and distributor relationships.

This represents a shift from our perception of what we need as an insurance company: “I can underwrite $X in this risk profile,” to “I have a customer who needs insurance, can I meet his or her needs?” And from anticipating the value of a long-term relationship with a customer and anticipating what they may need in the future: “[My customer] just bought a home and is expecting their first child.”

The unfortunate part is that pretty much every company, regardless of industry, now says they are “customer-centric.” The problem is that few companies have a really good handle on what that means because customer-centricity can encompass so many capabilities. Most simply, customer-centric companies put their customer at the center of their business, not their products or channels. This means that we anticipate


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