A New Orleans jury rejected claims that Kevin Costner deceived Stephen Baldwin (brother of celebrity Alec Baldwin) into selling shares of his stock in a company that became hugely profitable selling oil cleanup equipment in the wake of the British Petroleum (BP) spill.
The suit alleged that Costner cheated Baldwin and business partner Spyridon Contogouris out of their share of a deal under which BP bought 32 oil and water separation devices that were developed by a company owned by Costner.
The deal was struck after the Macondo well blew out in April 2010, spewing more than 4 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico in the largest accidental oil spill in history.
According to the suit, Baldwin and Contogouris claim they were not told about the deal with BP before they agreed to sell their shares in a company that had been set up to market Costner’s extraction devices.
As a result, they charge they were duped out of a portion of an US$ 18 million deposit from BP for the devices.
Kevin Costner has escaped a multi million dollar fine after a court dismissed Stephen Baldwin’s claims that he was duped into prematurely selling shares of a company that went on to bag a US$ 52 million contract.
The verdict was delivered after less than two hours of deliberation and has been completely vindicated by the New Orleans jury.
Costner told reporters of his relief at winning the case, and continued to deny all wrongdoing.
‘My name means more to me than money,’ the actor, wearing a tan striped blazer and sunglasses, told reporters after the ruling by the eight-person jury.
‘That’s why we wanted to get to the truth of this,’ said Costner.
He concluded by praising the jury for ‘doing their best to understand everything’ in a complex case.
‘They were really smart, and it was my good luck that they saw the truth of the story,’ he said.
Baldwin’s attorney James Cobb however, had repeatedly accused Costner of lying about the nature of his communication with BP executives before they sealed the deal.
‘The bigger celebrity won,’ Cobb said after the verdict.
‘We thought that we proved that Kevin Costner has made misrepresentations about the status of the company,’ he added. ‘The jury did not.’