BP Can Keep Inventor’s Claims in Federal Court

     TAMPA, Fla. (CN) – A man who claims BP used his inventions to stop the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, which pumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for five months, cannot seek payment in state court, a federal judge ruled.



     Joseph Kaminski, a former technical director for the Honeywell Space Systems Division in Clearwater, Fla., claims to have invented techniques that could assist in controlling the oil spill. He says he offered to sell BP those techniques for $2 million, but BP refused and simply used them without compensating him.
     From 1990 to 1999, Kaminski helped integrate the Honeywell space computer into the Terra, a NASA Earth Observing System satellite, according to a statement from his counsel with the Donovan Law Group.
     Kaminski also designed the Honeywell A2100 spacecraft computer product line, the NASA Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission computers, and the NASA FORTE mission computer, which stands for Fast On-orbit Rapid Recording of Transient Events.
     “Suffice it to say, Mr. Kaminski is not ‘Joe the Plumber,'” the firm said in a blog post when it filed their client’s complaint in the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pinellas County.
     Kaminski called BP on May 11, on the 21st day of the spill, with an offer “to assist BP to control the source of the oil spill resulting from the blowout,” according to the complaint.
     “During this initial telephone conversation, plaintiff Kaminski briefly explains to BP technical support team representatives how his insertion pipe design can be used to collect the oil flowing from the well. Plaintiff Kaminski’s idea is to insert a smaller pipe into the broken pipe past the break and inflate sealing rings. A technical support team representative is so impressed with the solution that he requests plaintiff Kaminski’s email address in order to forward him a form to fill out and return to the Horizon Support Team (‘HST’).”
     Kaminski says he explained these details again in a May 12 email and that he asked for $2 million in compensation for the use of his ideas in emails and conference calls on May 13.
     BP had been planning to stop the spill with a so-called Top Hat, but Kaminski allegedly explained that their cap would not work.
     Kaminski says BP was interested in his Top Hat with thermal-lifting action and his idea for a concrete insertion pipe.
     Kaminski says BP was actually prepared to pay him $2 million, and that this was apparent from his communications with Elizabeth Hittos, an attorney for U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.
     Kaminski claims BP could not have capped the will without using his novel ideas.
     BP faces fines under the Clean Water Act for every barrel of oil spilled. Kaminski claims that had it not been for his help, BP would face even greater fines,
     If BP is found guilty of gross negligence in the spill, it could face $21 billion in penalties.
     Kaminski’s complaint against BP Exploration and Production and BP America Production alleges three counts of breach of implied contract and three counts of unjust enrichment.
     BP removed the case to federal court, and U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew refused to send the case back to state court last week. Noting that there is a pending transfer decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, Bucklew also ordered a stay on proceedings.
     BP can refile its motion to dismiss within 14 days of that transfer decision.

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