NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Stephen Baldwin has sued Kevin Costner, claiming Costner and others tricked him into selling his shares in a company whose technology separates oil from water. Baldwin and a co-plaintiff claim that Costner and associates made a lucrative deal with BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, then bought out the plaintiffs' shares while keeping them in the dark about the $52 million sale to BP.
Baldwin and Spyridon Contogouris sued Westpac Resources, Patrick N. Smith, Kevin M. Costner and Rabobank in Federal Court.
"In the early 1990s, defendant Costner financed and oversaw the development of an oil and water separation technology under the auspices of a corporation owned and managed by him, CINC, an acronym for 'Costner in Nevada Corporation,'" according to the complaint.
Contogouris and Baldwin claim: "In the early 2000s, Contogouris was approached by persons representing Costner to market the technology and the separation device invented at Costner's direction to various customers. Contogouris entered into an agreement with CINC under which he would receive a commission on sales of units made to customers located by Contogouris."
The complaint adds: "Costner's attempts to market the CINC oil separating system proved unsuccessful, and, upon information and belief, he sold all of his rights to the technology and his ownership in CINC to [nonparty] Bret Shelton, an individual domiciled in Nevada, who continued to operate the business as CINC industries."
According to the complaint: "Immediately prior to the events described herein, Contogouris and his family had a meal with Costner on April 17, 2010 in Biloxi, Mississippi where Costner was appearing with his band known as 'Modern West.'"
Three days later, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caught fire, exploded and sank.
"Although initial media reports indicated no oil was leaking from the well being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon, Contogouris learned within days from industry sources that massive amounts of oil were spewing from the well site," the complaint states.
At the end of April, Contogouris says, he wanted to speak with Costner about his technology, but Costner was filming a movie in Canada. So Contogouris spoke with a friend of Costner's instead, "Tim Hochter, who advised Contogouris that Costner had sold his interest in the technology to CINC and that Hochter was reluctant to raise the issue with Costner because of the amounts of money Costner had lost in the venture to perfect and manufacture the oil separation system," according to the complaint.
Contogouris says he contacted Brett Shelton and CINC Industries to see if he could obtain an exclusive agreement to acquire it for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But because Contogouris was not able to get in touch with top BP management, he decided he needed to bring in new partners.
"Stephen Baldwin, an actor, and Contogouris, have been friends for many years. On April 29 or April 30, 2010, Baldwin advised Contogouris that he would be coming to New Orleans to meet with a local attorney, John Houghtaling, who was discussing making a motion picture in which Baldwin would be the star. Baldwin asked Contogouris to attend a luncheon with Houghtaling to discuss the movie project. During the meeting, Contogouris expressed the view that the proposed movie would likely be unprofitable, and those interested in making a film should make a documentary film based on the BP film. Houghtaling immediately expressed interest in this idea. ..." according to the complaint.