Deepwater rafting

By | 26th April 2012

This short post contains something new and something not quite so new!

In the “not quite so new” corner, The Times reports (April 25th 2012) that a BP engineer has been charged with allegedly trying to destroy evidence about the true scale of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The interestingly named Kurt Mix is alleged to have deleted at least 300 messages including texts exchanged with a supervisor on the subject of the unsuccessful attempt by BP to cap the Macondo well using a technique known as “top kill.”

The US Department of Justice says that Kurt Mix’s texts show that BP knew that the well was leaking more oil into the Gulf of Mexico than it admitted and the engineer now faces two charges of obstruction of justice.

One text is said to include the message: “Too much flow rate-over 15000.”

Not yet quite on the scale of the Enron debacle but significant in any event. The wider message is not new: don’t assume that by pressing the delete button you can get rid of the material. I suppose the other message lawyers may want to give to their clients is that they should discourage employees from putting sensitive discussions into writing.

While that may not be a new message either, there is a very new development in the Virginia State Court. In the case of Global Aerospace Inc v Landow Aviation LP et al an order approving the use of predictive coding was entered on April 23rd 2012.

The details of the case are apparently complex but Ralph Losey’s report in his e-Discovery Team® blog heralds this as the “second ever order approving predictive coding.” [Second Ever Order Entered Approving Predictive Coding, 24th April, 2012 ]

Judge James H Chamblin’s order may be found by following the link above.