Wednesday 20 September 2017

Costner relieved as jury dismisses fellow actor's fraud claim

A US jury has rejected claims that Kevin Costner and his business partner duped fellow actor Stephen Baldwin and a friend out of millions of dollars from a BP contract for using oil clean-up devices in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

The New Orleans jury deliberated for less than two hours before delivering the verdict in the lawsuit brought by Mr Baldwin and his friend, Spyridon Contogouris.

Their lawyer had asked the eight-member jury to award the plaintiffs more than $17m (€13.5m) in damages.

That is how much they estimate they would have received if they had not sold their shares in a company that marketed oil-separating centrifuges to BP, before the oil giant made an $18m deposit on a $52m order for 32 of the devices. The jury awarded them nothing.

Shares

Mr Costner said he was grateful for the opportunity to clear his name, adding: "My name means more to me than money and that's why we didn't settle."

Mr Contogouris and Mr Baldwin sold their shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions for $1.4m and $500,000 respectively.

Mr Baldwin testified that he would have held out for much more if he had known that BP had committed to ordering 32 centrifuges.

Lawyers for Mr Costner and Mr Smith said Mr Baldwin and Mr Contogouris knew that BP was preparing to order the centrifuges when they sold their shares, rather than gambling on a more lucrative payout if BP signed a binding contract.

Mr Baldwin's lawyer James Cobb said: "We're disappointed. We thought we proved rather convincingly that these two guys, Mr Costner and Mr Smith, defrauded us."

Irish Independent

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