Actor Stephen Baldwin and a friend of his are now going to trial with Kevin Costner and one of his associates over feeding them false information over BP oil centrifuges during the 2010 Deep Horizon disaster and tricking them into selling stock in the company that built the machines.
Costner’s company had developed the technology to create machines that would separate oil from the water in the 1990s, and just before the stock in the company would increase due to a $52 million order by BP for the Costner centrifuges to help in the clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico, Baldwin and a New Orleans businessman, had sold off their shares in the company.
Both actors have been ordered by the judge preceding over the case to be present every day during the suit being fought in a New Orleans federal court. Jury selection started on Monday.
Baldwin and Spyridon Contogouris, claim that in May of 2010, while in New Orleans to film a documentary on the Deepwater Horizon spill, they invested in the Costner company that created the oil-water centrifuge technology. However, on June 11th they sold there shares back after having differences with other shareholders. On June 15th, BP announced the multi-million dollar deal with Costner’s company, which greatly increased the value of the shares they once held.
They accuse Costner and Patrick Smith, who bought Contogouris and Baldwin’s shares, of knowing of the impending deal with BP, but not disclosing the information to them when they sold their shares.
Both Baldwin and Contogouris say they would have never sold the stock were they told of the BP deal. Baldwin had a 10% stake in the company which he invested $500,000 and would be worth $3.8 million after the deal. While Contogouris had a 28% share he invested $1.4 million that would have been worth $10.6 million afterwards.
Meanwhile, Smith and Costner’s lawyer maintain that Baldwin and Contogouris sold the stock with their “eyes wide open, to get out of a soured business relationship and to invest in other ventures.,” and knew that BP might possibly place the order. They cite the fact that Costner had testified to Congress about his centrifuges two days before they sold their stock.
Lawyers also claim that Costner was “dumbfounded,” “flabbergasted” and “furious” when he learned that the two men had sold out before the company could make any money.