Sunday, May 16, 2010
Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank last month killing 11 and creating a growing oil spill, today got a Houston judge to stay pending cases against the company. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison today issued an order suspending cases against Transocean because the company filed a request to limit its liability in the lawsuits filed against it to $26.7 million. Lawyers involved in the myriad of lawsuits filed against Transocean, rig leaser BP and others said they expected Transocean would take advantage of the Limitation of Liability Act, a maritime law that allows a vessel owner to limit liability to the value of the vessel and its freight. The law dates back to the mid 1800s when it was passed to protect U.S. vessel owners, eliminating some risk in crisis situations and aiding competition with foreign ships. Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for Transocean, said the company filed this request on instruction from its insurers and to preserve its insurance.