Jury selection started today in an unusual court case that has two Hollywood stars pitted against each other over investments related to oil-separation devices used in the cleanup of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, CBS News reports.
The stars are Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin, both of whom appeared in court today in New Orleans. Baldwin has filed suit, alleging Costner and a business partner “duped Baldwin and a friend out of their shares of an $18 million deal for BP to buy oil-separating centrifuges after the April 2010 spill,” the story reports.
U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman cautioned prospective jurors not to be influenced by the litigants’ celebrity status.
Said Feldman: "Celebrity has no place in this courtroom or in any of the issues that need to be resolved by the jury in this trial.”
The report adds: “Feldman asked the potential jurors whether the entertainers’ on-screen portrayals compromised the ability to deliver an objective verdict. No one in the pool said they would feel influenced.”
The two actors reportedly did not interact with each other before court.
BP reportedly ordered 32 of the units and deployed some of them on a barge in June 2010 before capping its blown-out Gulf well.
The story reports: “Baldwin and his friend, Spyridon Contogouris, said they didn’t know about the deal when they agreed to sell their shares of Ocean Therapy Solutions, a company that marketed the centrifuges to BP, for $1.4 million and $500,000, respectively.
“Baldwin and Contogouris claim they were deliberately excluded from a June 8 meeting between Costner, his business partner Patrick Smith and BP executive Doug Suttles, who agreed to make an $18 million deposit on a $52 million order for the 32 devices, according to the lawsuit.”
Baldwin and Contogouris claim they are owed a share of the BP deposit.
Costner talked at the time about the plan to deploy the centrifuges, saying: "It was designed to give us a fighting chance, to fight back the oil before it got us by the throat.”