(NEW ORLEANS) — Kevin Costner, the Academy Award winner who starred in Dances With Wolves and Hatfields & McCoys, may testify as early as Thursday in a Louisiana court in response to a suit filed by fellow-actor Stephen Baldwin.
Baldwin, the youngest of the four acting Baldwin brothers, filed a suit in December 2010 against Costner and his business partner, Patrick Smith, over profits from a technology that BP leased for the Deepwater Horizon spill.
The actors’ trial proceedings take place daily this week and are expected to last two weeks. Smith, the trial’s first witness, testified for two hours on Monday and eight hours on Tuesday.
Costner’s device is a five-ton centrifuge designed to separate water from oil, spit out clean water and save the oil, Smith said in his testimony this week. The two seeked to place the centrifuges on ships.
The timeline of the case goes as far back as the production for Costner’s film, Waterworld. Costner starred and co-directed the science-fiction film, which tanked at the box office when it was released in 1995.
In the early 1990s, Costner financed and oversaw the development of an oil and water separation technology under the auspices of a corporation owned and managed by him called CINC Inc., which stands for “Costner in Nevada Corporation.”
After the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, Costner made headlines again marketing his device and snagging a $52 million deal with BP for 32 of his centrifuges.
“It separates oil and water at incredibly high speeds under very difficult conditions,” Costner told ABC’s Good Morning America’s Sam Champion in 2010.
The devices weren’t used to cap the well but were designed to collect oil on the water’s surface.
Joining Baldwin in the lawsuit is Spyridon Contogouris, described as a hedge fund consultant and having “been friends for many years” in a court filing. The two seek more than $21 million in damages against Costner, Smith and their company, WestPac, for duping them into selling their shares in the company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, before making the $52 million deal with BP.
Baldwin says he was bought out of Costner’s company for $500,000 while Contogouris was bought out for $1.4 million.
BP reportedly never used the 32 devices it ordered from Costner’s company, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. By September 2010, the well was eventually sealed with cement and a relief well.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kayla Nelson, Idaho State University Marketing and Communication
Jim Bennett, Deseret News