By James J. Neath
I awoke the morning of Wednesday, April 21, 2010, to another beautiful sunny day in Houston — until I turned on the TV news and saw a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico engulfed in fire. My heart sank moments later when I was told that the rig was working for BP, my employer.
As BP’s associate general counsel in charge of global litigation, I had lived through a number of significant legal crises: the largest oil spill ever on Alaska’s North Slope, a multiple fatality refinery explosion, the near sinking of one of the world’s largest oil rigs, a commodity trading scandal, among others. I knew as I watched the rig burn that the Deepwater Horizon incident would generate many years of litigation. In the years following BP’s merger with Amoco, many observers doubted that any single legal matter could threaten the financial health of the group. That was about to change.