Jurors to mull actor's suit against Kevin Costner

NEW ORLEANS, June 14 Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:50pm EDT

NEW ORLEANS, June 14 (Reuters) - Lawyers for actor Stephen Baldwin o n T hursday rested their case against "Dances With Wolves" star Kevin Costner, who Baldwin accuses of cheating him in a multimillion-dollar deal to sell oil cleanup devices to BP Plc after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Costner's attorneys also concluded their case, leaving it in the hands of an eight-person jury.

The federal lawsuit brought against Costner by Baldwin and business partner Spyridon C. Contogouris claims Costner cheated them by hiding details of a deal with BP before they sold their stake in the company marketing the oil-cleaning devices.

In the deal, BP agreed to make an $18 million deposit for the $52 million order for 32 oil and water separation devices. Baldwin and Contogouris claim they were duped out of part of BP's $18 million deposit.

Plaintiffs' attorney James Cobb has repeatedly accused Costner and his business partner, Patrick Smith, of lying about the nature of his communication with BP executives before they sealed the deal.

"Lies are like Lays potato chips - I bet they can't tell just one," said Cobb, representing Baldwin, 46, known for roles in "The Usual Suspects" and "Flyboys." "And they told bags of them.

"Mr. Costner's testimony was tortured, scripted and rehearsed," Cobb said, referring to the 57-year-old actor who starred in "Field of Dreams," "The Untouchables," "The Bodyguard" and "Dances With Wolves," which won him Oscars for best picture and best director.

Costner never misrepresented any information about his deal with BP, said his attorney Wayne Lee. He said Baldwin and Contogouris hoped that Costner would "roll over and give in" rather than fight the allegations.

"We've seen some of the effects of fame," Lee said. "Kevin is here in part because he is famous."

The plaintiffs seek damages of $16.8 million to $17.2 million, Cobb said. Lee has said that Baldwin and Contogouris are not entitled to any payments because they sold their shares in the company before the deal with BP was sealed.

Both actors once invested in Ocean Therapy Solutions, the company that acquired the rights to sell the oil-separating centrifuges. Baldwin said he was a major force in promoting the devices, which he hoped to showcase in a documentary about the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.

BP never used the oil separators because the company sealed the blown-out Macondo well before they could be delivered.

The case is Contogouris et al v. WestPac Resources, LLC et al, U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 2:10-cv-04609.