By Leslie Snadowsky
NEW ORLEANS, June 14 A U.S. jury ruled on
Thursday in favor of actor Kevin Costner in a lawsuit in which
fellow actor Stephen Baldwin accused him of cheating in a
multimillion-dollar deal to sell oil cleanup devices to BP Plc
after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The federal lawsuit brought against Costner by Baldwin and
business partner Spyridon C. Contogouris claimed Costner cheated
them by hiding details of a deal with BP before they sold their
stake in the company marketing the oil-cleaning devices.
"My name means more to me than money," the 57-year-old actor
told reporters after the ruling by the 8-person jury, wearing a
tan striped blazer and sunglasses.
"That's why we wanted to get to the truth of this," said
Costner, who starred in "Field of Dreams," "The Untouchables,"
"The Bodyguard" and "Dances With Wolves," which won him Oscars
for best picture and best director.
Baldwin and Contogouris had sought about $17 million from
Costner and his business partner, Patrick Smith. The jury, which
deliberated for less than two hours, made no award of damages.
Costner's attorneys argued that Baldwin and Contogouris were
not entitled to any payments because they sold their shares in
the company before the deal with BP was sealed.
Plaintiffs' attorney James Cobb had repeatedly accused
Costner and Smith of lying about the nature of his communication
with BP executives before they sealed the deal.
"The bigger celebrity won," Cobb told reporters.
Baldwin, 46, the younger brother of film and TV star Alec
Baldwin, is known for roles in "The Usual Suspects" and
"Flyboys." He gave no comment to reporters as he left the
courtroom after the verdict was read.
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.
"We thought that we proved that Kevin Costner ... made
misrepresentations about the status of the company," Cobb said.
"The jury did not."
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.