(NEW ORLEANS) — Almost two years after the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, opening statements for the largest environmental lawsuit in history began in court Monday.
In order to avoid billions of dollars in damages, BP will have to prove that errors that led to the oil spill do not indicate gross negligence. Melanie Driscoll was among the activists gathered outside the court Monday. She believes BP was grossly negligent.
“Putting their bottom line ahead of human life, bird life, our seafood, our economy is unacceptable. It’s a price the American people have paid and we want BP to have to pay that price,” Driscoll said.
In this first phase of the lawsuit, the court will focus exclusively on the cause of the explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon in April of 2010. That part of the proceedings could last more than three months in a trial that will last over a year.
BP already has been found guilty of negligence in a criminal trial; now a judge will set out to determine the civil damages and who’ll get how much of the potential $17 billion in fines.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN