Covering Louisiana

Jan 10, 2014 1:09 PM by associated press

Feds still weighing appeal in BP supervisors' case

A federal judge agreed Thursday to extend a deadline for the Justice Department to decide whether to appeal the dismissal of some manslaughter counts against two BP employees charged in the deadly 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The original deadline was this week, but U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. agreed to give prosecutors an additional 30 days from Thursday to make a decision. BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were indicted on 22 manslaughter counts for the deaths of 11 rig workers.

On Dec. 10, Duval ruled that charging them with 11 counts of "seaman's manslaughter" exceeded the intended scope of the statute in connection with their job duties. But Duval refused to dismiss 11 other counts of involuntary manslaughter against Kaluza and Vidrine.

Their trial on the remaining counts is scheduled to start in June.

Prosecutors claim Kaluza and Vidrine botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the April 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well. The blowout triggered an explosion that killed the 11 workers and led to millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

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