"Financially, BP had the resources to effectively put into place a process safety system that could have prevented the Macondo disaster," Bea testified.
BP has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other criminal charges and has racked up more than $24 billion in spill-related expenses, including cleanup costs, compensation for businesses and individuals, and $4 billion in criminal penalties.
Plaintiffs' attorney Robert Cunningham read portions of the plea agreement as he pressed McKay to say how much responsibility BP takes for the catastrophe. Cunningham noted that nothing in the document assigns blame to specific BP executives.
"That is not written in there. That's true," McKay said.
Two BP rig supervisors, however, have been indicted on manslaughter charges for the workers' deaths and are awaiting a separate trial.
"There were some misinterpretations and mistakes made" on the rig, McKay said.
One of the biggest questions facing Barbier is whether BP acted with gross negligence.
Under the Clean Water Act, a polluter can be forced to pay a minimum of $1,100 per barrel of spilled oil; the fines nearly quadruple to about $4,300 a barrel for companies found grossly negligent, meaning BP could be on the hook for nearly $18 billion.
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