(Reuters) — Two former BP Plc <BP.L> well site managers have failed
to win the dismissal of involuntary manslaughter charges over their
roles in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster, which killed
In a decision late Monday, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval in New
Orleans rejected the argument by Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine
that the laws under which they were charged were unconstitutionally
vague because they lacked a clear "standard of care" that had been
"Taking the facts as alleged in the indictment as true," Duval
wrote, "it is difficult to find that any person would not be
apprised that general negligent conduct, much less grossly negligent
conduct, in this matter would not be sanctioned," particularly given
"the inherent danger in deepwater drilling."
Prosecutors accused Kaluza and Vidrine of failing to properly
supervise a "negative test" meant to keep gases and fluids from
entering the Macondo well, and failing to contact onshore engineers
upon learning of "serious warning signs" that the well was not
Shaun Clarke, a lawyer representing Kaluza, and Robert Habans, a
lawyer representing Vidrine, declined to comment.
The office of U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite in New Orleans was not
immediately available to comment.
Kaluza and Vidrine face a June 2 trial on 11 counts of involuntary
manslaughter and one count alleging a Clean Water Act violation.
They had faced 23 counts, but Duval on December 10 dismissed 11
counts of ship officers' manslaughter, saying the defendants had no
navigation functions in their jobs.
Prosecutors have until February 10 to appeal that ruling.
The well blowout and explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
on April 20, 2010, led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S.
Two other people were criminally charged over the disaster.
A federal jury found former BP engineer Kurt Mix guilty on December
18 of obstruction of justice after prosecutors said he destroyed
text and voice messages over oil spillage. Mix is seeking a new
trial. His sentencing is scheduled for March 26.
David Rainey, BP's former vice president of exploration for the Gulf
of Mexico, faces a March 10 trial on charges of obstruction of
Congress and making false statements to investigators about the
The case is U.S. v. Kaluza et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern
District of Louisiana, No. 12-cr-00265.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New
York; editing by Andre Grenon)