On September 16, Reagan Simpson presented oral arguments in the Texas Supreme Court on behalf of Transocean and its insurers in their insurance coverage dispute with BP, In re Deepwater Horizon.
BP seeks coverage as an additional insured under Transocean’s policies, with $750 million in policy limits, for the massive subsea pollution released in 2010 from BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. BP was the well’s operator, and Transocean was the drilling contractor that provided the offshore mobile drilling unit, Deepwater Horizon.
As part of the extensive litigation spawned by this massive oil spill, Judge Carl Barbier, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, ruled that BP was not an insured because the drilling contract and policies covered BP only for liabilities that Transocean assumed, and those assumed liabilities did not include subsea pollution. The United States Court of Appeals initially reversed, but then withdrew its opinion and certified two questions about controlling issues of Texas law to the Texas Supreme Court. Essentially, the certified questions concern the interpretation of and interrelationship between insurance policies and offshore drilling contracts. The case attracted numerous amicus briefs on both sides of the certified questions.
The legal team supporting Transocean included Reagan Simpson and Marc Tabolsky of Yetter Coleman; former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriett O’Neill; Steven Roberts, Kent Sullivan, and Stephanie Olsen-Legrand of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan; John Elsley of Royston Rayzor Vickery & Williams; and Brad Brian and Daniel Levin of Munger Tolles & Olson.