High-Stakes Trial Begins for 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A trial has started for the high-stakes case against BP and other companies involved in a deadly rig explosion that spawned the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is scheduled to hear several hours of opening statements Monday by lawyers for the companies, federal and state governments and others who sued over the disaster.

Barbier is hearing the case without a jury.

The trial is designed to identify the causes of BP’s well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies.

That will help determine how much more each has to pay.

Months of negotiations have failed to produce a settlement that could have averted the trial. Eleven workers died in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

And if you have an idea for how to spend Florida’s share of money paid out because of the Gulf oil spill?

Then officials want to hear from you.

The Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are asking residents what projects should be included among priorities.

Public meetings will be held Thursday in Panama City and March 13 in St. Petersburg.