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BP Seeks to Block Expert Testimony in Deepwater Horizon Trial

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According to an AP report, BP and other companies involved have filed numerous motions to block the testimony of two expert witnesses in the trial over Deepwater Horizon explosion of April 20, 2010. The experts in question, Robert Bea, a University of California-Berkeley engineer, and William Gale, a California-based fire and explosion investigator and consultant, are scheduled to testify about an alleged disregard for safety throughout the company that eventually led to the disaster.

The trial, which is set to begin on Feb. 27, will determine the division of responsibility that began with a massive explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon that cost 11 workers their lives, and over the course of the next few months resulted in the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, as millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico from the blown out well. The trial is expected to rely heavily on expert testimony and if these experts are barred from testimony it could have an enormous impact on the trial.

In its filing, BP charged that Bea and Gale's report was "the opposite of good science." BP charged the two experts with focusing solely on BP and analyzing documents and evidence "spoon-fed to them" by plaintiffs lawyers. BP accused the experts of ignoring the "safety culture of the other parties" involved in the spill, in particular Transocean Ltd., the drilling company running operations aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

Attempts to exclude expert testimony are the standard in most trials of this nature; however, Tulane University law professor Ed Sherman told the AP that he would be surprised if the experts were excluded from the trial.