Kevin Costner wins in Stephen Baldwin's BP spill lawsuit
Kevin Costner has come out on top in Stephen Baldwin's lawsuit against him, over investments he had made in technology developed by the actor's company.
A federal jury listened to eight days of testimony and deliberated for less than two hours before delivering the verdict, according to the Associated Press. Baldwin and his business partner, Spyridon C. Contogouris sought more than $17 million in damages and were awarded nothing.
After the verdict was read, Costner shook his lawyer's hand and told the wire service that he was grateful to clear his name in the case.
"My name means more to me than money and that's why we didn't settle," Costner said shortly after the verdict. He went on to praise the jury, telling reporters, "They were really smart, and it was my good luck that they saw the truth of the story."
The suit alleged that Costner cheated Baldwin and his business partner out of their share of a multi-million dollar deal where British Petroleum bought devices which were used to help clean up BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Baldwin claimed the actor and a business partner duped him and Contogouris into selling shares in a firm that marketed centrifuges that separate oil from water, which were made by the Costner in Nevada Corporation, the Associated Press said. The oil leak was sealed in September.
Baldwin, who appeared in films such as "The Usual Suspects" and the reality show "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!," said he and Contogouris were excluded from a June 2010 business meeting attended by Costner, his partner Patrick Smith and a BP executive.
BP purchased 32 centrifuges for an estimated $52 million and agreed to make a $18 million deposit on them to clean up over 4 million barrels of crude oil which spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, the largest accidental oil spill in history.
Baldwin said that after being kept in the dark, he and Contogouris agreed to sell their shares for $500,000 and $1.4 million respectively, a few days later. He alleges in the lawsuit that Costner and the business partner "schemed" to use money from the deposit to buy his and his friend's shares, cheating them out of a portion of the $18 million deposit.
Baldwin's attorney James Cobb said that his clients were disappointed with the verdict and told reporters, "We're disappointed. We thought we proved rather convincingly that these two guys, Mr. Costner and Mr. Smith, defrauded us."
"The jury saw it a different way but we respect the jury's verdict," Cobb continued."I believe we proved our case and because the bigger celebrity won."
During his closing argument, Cobb told jurors they probably see the case as a "bunch of rich people fighting over money I'll never, ever see."
Costner's attorney Wayne Lee argued that his client's celebrity was the only reason he was sued and said that the lawsuit should have never been brought.
"Kevin Costner is here for one reason and one reason only: He's famous," Lee said in opening statements. He also said that Costner, who lost roughly $20 million in an earlier effort to market the centrifuge technology to the oil and gas industry, decided to lobby BP to use the devices because he wanted to help protect the Gulf Coast from the monumental spill.
On Wednesday, a BP contractor testified that Baldwin had threatened to feed personal information about Costner to The New York Times if the two actors couldn't resolve their business dispute.