On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department filed federal criminal charges against Kurt Mix, a former engineer for BP, for obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying text messages which described the rate of oil gushing from the damaged Macondo well following the explosion on April 20, 2010.

Prosecutors allege that Mix intentionally deleted two separate text message conversations after he was explicitly ordered to preserve them by BP.

Curiously, according to federal prosecutors, Mix’s estimate of “over 15,000” barrels of oil per day leaking from the well was considerably greater than BP’s public estimates at the time, a mere 5,000 barrels per day.

More than two years after one of the worst disasters in United States history, BP and Transocean have yet to be criminally charged. Instead, a low-level employee of the company is now being prosecuted for actions after the fact. While obstruction of justice charges may be appropriate considering the nature of the allegations against Mr. Mix, the most important actors in the run-up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster have yet to be held accountable for their wrongdoing. It’s time for the DOJ to step up and hold BP and Transocean responsible for the negligent, even reckless course of conduct that led directly to the deadly explosion.

Our maritime lawyers were hired by 5 of the workers who were injured onboard the BP Deepwater Horizon when it tragically exploded in April 2010.  After only 18 months, we were able to settle the cases against BP and Transocean for a substantial (and confidential) amount.

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