Costner And Baldwin Go To Court Over Oil Deal

Costner And Baldwin Go To Court Over Oil Deal

A courtroom battle between actors Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin is under way over a £34m deal to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Baldwin and his friend Spyridon Contogouris held shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions, a company owned by Costner selling water cleaning technology.

The pair say they were not told about a £34m order from BP for 32 oil-separating devices before they sold their shares for just £900,000 and £325,000 respectively.

Baldwin and Contogouris claim they were deliberately excluded from a June 2010 meeting between Costner, his business partner Patrick Smith, and BP executive Doug Suttles, who agreed to make a deposit on an order for the devices.

They believe they should have been entitled to a share of the £11.7m deposit payment, and are now seeking more than £13m in damages.

BP struck the deal with the firm after their Macondo well blew out in April 2010 , spewing more than four million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico in the largest accidental oil spill in history.

The civil trial opened at a New Orleans federal court on Monday, where US district judge Martin Feldman told prospective jurors they could not be influenced by the celebrity status of Baldwin and Costner.

"Celebrity has no place in this courtroom or in any of the issues that need to be resolved by the jury in this trial," he said.

During opening statements, Costner's lawyer said his client played no role in Baldwin's decision to sell his shares in the company.

Meanwhile, Baldwin's lawyer told jurors that Costner and Smith had spun a web of lies that cheated his client out of millions of dollars.

Costner, who is best known for his performance in The Bodyguard, and Baldwin, who appeared in the Usual Suspects, will attend court each day throughout the trial.