On April 20, 2010, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven people and injuring seventeen more. Efforts to stop the spill failed. For the next eighty-seven days, hundreds of millions of barrels of oil poured into the Gulf. This catastrophe not only changed the lives of the families of the dead and injured and the communities who experienced the economic and social disruption of the spill – it challenged the survival of the ecosystem of the ninth largest water body in the world. The oil spill extended fifty miles offshore from Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico and spread over an area larger than the State of Idaho. The oil spill also triggered the onset of one of the most significant civil environmental enforcement actions in the history of our nation. This Article is written by counsel for the Department of Justice’s civil enforcement case in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. After examining the litigation of the case from inception through settlement, this article explores the lessons learned from the litigation and the premise that this case demonstrates a proof of concept for the effectiveness of cooperative federalism, the Manual for Complex Litigation and the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
John C. Cruden, Steve O'Rourke & Sarah D. Himmelhoch,
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Litigation: Proof of Concept for the Manual for Complex Litigation and the 2015 Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol6/iss1/3