APNewsBreak: Judge says BP contract shielded rig owner Transocean from some Gulf spill claims

01/26/2012 05:51 EST | Updated 03/27/2012 05:12 EDT
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge has ruled that the rig owner involved in drilling the ill-fated well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico was shielded by its contract with BP from having to pay many pollution claims in the nation's largest offshore oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled Thursday, however, that Transocean Ltd. is not exempt from paying punitive damages and civil penalties that arise from the April 20, 2010, blowout 100 miles (160 kilometres) off the Louisiana coast.

He also says Transocean is responsible for claims that are directly related to pollution caused by its rig.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange tells The Associated Press that the Justice Department is working with the states and BP to create an outline for a settlement. A trial on the spill is set for next month.