Judge Dismisses Claim BP Stole Idea to Stop Spill
TAMPA (CN) - A federal judge dismissed claims BP stole a Florida man's invention to clean up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Joseph F. Kaminski, a former technical director for the Honeywell Space Systems Division in Clearwater, Fla., claimed he offered two BP subsidiaries specific ideas about how to stop the spill and offered to sell them the techniques he described for $2 million.
Instead, he said, BP Exploration and Production Inc. and BP America Production Co., refused his help and simply used them without compensating him.
Kaminski claimed that he talked to BP's technical support team on the phone about his method of inserting a smaller pipe into the broken pipeline. He then allegedly relayed specific details on the technology and equipment needed for the fix in a May 12 email.
His complaint alleged three counts of breach of implied contract and three counts of unjust enrichment.
The oil company's response was to argue Kaminski's idea was a variation of its own "Top Hat" idea, thereby adapting "an existing knowledge."
Though BP submitted 13 journal and news articles that allegedly showed Kaminski's ideas in the public domain, the inventor's attorneys said Kaminski's plan was different.
However, in the end, U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew found found BP and Kaminski had no contract and that the methods the oil company deployed used were substantially different than what the plaintiff offered.
"Based on the record before the Court, viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding whether BP and Plaintiff executed any writing sufficient to indicate that they made a contract governing BP's alleged use of Plaintiff's ideas," Bucklew wrote.
Kaminski alleged that BP used his insertion pipe idea-to insert a smaller pipe into the broken pipe past the broken riser and to inflate sealing rings.
Also, he claims it used his idea for a top hat with thermal lifting action, because BP modified all of its top hats to inject warm upper seawater into the top hat.
Then, Kaminski said that BP's "capping stack" mechanism used his riser spool and two-pin design idea.
Bucklew said company records contained emails to Kaminski stating his proposals could not be used or had already been considered.
"Because the record clearly shows that Plaintiff's top hat with thermal lifting action idea was not submitted to the response teams and was not the same as that implemented by BP, there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether BP used it," Bucklew wrote.
"Summary judgment for BP is also warranted because the record shows that Plaintiff's riser spool and two-pin design idea was not the same as the mechanism implemented by BP. BP's expert report showed the substantial differences between BP's method and Plaintiff's riser pool and two-pin design idea," she said.
Bucklew granted BP's requests for summary judgment on all counts and directed the court to close the case.