Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Baldwin-Tied Oil-Spill|Suit Runs Out of Steam

(CN) - An appeals court refused to revive Stephen Baldwin's claims regarding oil-spill-cleanup technology fellow actor Kevin Costner developed and tried to employ after the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Costner developed centrifuge technology to clean up oil spills in the early 1990s, eventually selling the patent to a businessman named Spyridion Contogouris.

When the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded in April 2010 - gushing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next three months - Costner joined Contogouris, Baldwin and others in creating Ocean Therapy Solutions.

Infighting erupted within the joint venture, however, as some of members wanted to make a one-time sale of the technology to BP, which was in charge of cleaning up the Deep Horizon spill, while others wanted to also market the technology to other oil companies.

When Costner, local attorney John W. Houghtaling II and a third man, Patrick Smith, met with BP in May 2010, securing a $52 million order of centrifuge units, Baldwin and Contogouris claimed that they were excluded from the meeting, and that Houghtaling told them there was no deal with BP.

Baldwin and Contogouris transferred 38 percent of Ocean Therapies to Smith for $1.9 million on June 11, 2010.

BP issued the purchase order for $52 million one day later, but Baldwin and Contogouris claimed that they did not learn about this deal for another month.

While their lawsuit against Costner was pending in 2011, Baldwin and Contogouris filed suit for legal malpractice and conspiracy against Ocean Therapies, Houghtaling and his law firm.

Costner eventually prevailed in the case against him, and Baldwin and Contogouris suffered another defeat last year when the trial court dismissed their claims against Houghtaling under the doctrine of res judicata, meaning the matter had already been judged.

Louisiana's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed Friday, noting that Houghtaling was "served in the same capacity as Westpac" in the federal lawsuit against Costner.

"Furthermore, the claims of misrepresentation asserted by Mr. Contogouris and Mr. Baldwin in this action not only arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, but are nearly identical to those alleged in the Westpac suit," Chief Judge James McKay III wrote for a three-person panel.

As an OTS attorney, Houghtaling was subject to a release of claims in the agreement that transferred the plaintiffs' portion of the company, the court found.

Costner won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for "Dances With Wolves" in 1990.

Baldwin, one of a group of acting brothers, has appeared in such films as "Born on the Fourth of July" and "The Usual Suspects."

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.