WaterSound, Florida - (October 12, 2010) - The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE) today announced it filed a lawsuit against Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc., Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Deepwater, Inc. and Triton Asset Leasing, GmbH (collectively, "Transocean") for their role in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill ("the incident").
Transocean was the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was being leased to BP Exploration & Production, Inc. when the Macondo well blew out on April 20, 2010, resulting in the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The lawsuit claims Transocean was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Deepwater Horizon rig and its equipment, accountable for overseeing day-to-day drilling activities on the rig, and, therefore, responsible for performing or authorizing performance of many of the activities necessary to maintain well control at the drilling site. As a result of the incident, an estimated 205 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico - causing tens of billions of dollars in damages.
Filed today in Superior Court for the State of Delaware, New Castle County, the lawsuit charges Transocean with having been grossly negligent in the performance of its duties. According to the lawsuit, "...Transocean made deliberate decisions to operate and maintain the Deepwater Horizon in a manner that it knew was grossly negligent, inherently flawed, and not in compliance with applicable regulations and international safety standards." The lawsuit claims that instead of shutting down the well in the face of multiple signs that a blowout was imminent, Transocean willingly made a series of decisions that compromised rig safety and well control in the name of expediency.
According to the lawsuit, Transocean "failed to live up to its responsibilities" by not making necessary mechanical repairs to the rig, and by failing to conduct routine equipment inspections mandated by regulations on more than 300 pieces of equipment on the Deepwater Horizon. The lawsuit claims that at the time of the disaster, the inspection of the blowout preventer - the rig's last line of defense against the unchecked discharge of gas, oil, and other pollutants - was at least five years overdue.
"We believe Transocean bears full responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon incident and the catastrophic harm that was caused," says William A. Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and lead counsel for St. Joe. "In our view, the record demonstrates Transocean was not only negligent in its primary responsibilities, but that it failed to act upon a series of warning signals that could have prevented this horrific disaster."
The lawsuit is the third legal action taken by St. Joe in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident. It has previously filed lawsuits against Halliburton and MI-SWACO. St. Joe owns approximately 577,000 acres in Florida, 70 percent of which are within 15 miles of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Since the incident, St. Joe has suffered a substantial decline in its enterprise value - faced with direct costs, an interruption to its business, and the diminution in the value of its assets. The Company's stock price declined by over 40 percent in the days following the explosion.
St. Joe's President and CEO Britt Greene commented on today's filing and the Company's efforts to pursue a full and appropriate remedy for the damages it has incurred since the April 20 disaster. "We believe Transocean could have prevented this tragedy - and is directly responsible for the damages that were caused," said Greene. "The lawsuit represents another important step in our effort to achieve a full and complete recovery for the damages suffered by St. Joe."
About St. Joe
The St. Joe Company, a publicly held company currently based in WaterSound, is one of Florida's largest real estate development companies and Northwest Florida's largest private landowner. St. Joe is primarily engaged in real estate development and sales, with significant interests in timber. More information about the Company can be found on its website at www.joe.com.
About Bickel & Brewer
Founded in 1984, Bickel & Brewer has earned a reputation as one of the most successful law firms in the United States practicing exclusively in the field of complex commercial litigation and dispute resolution. With offices in New York and Dallas, Bickel & Brewer represents a wide spectrum of industry leaders - from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 corporations - facing the most challenging of legal issues. Visit Bickel & Brewer at www.bickelbrewer.com.
Statements in this press release that are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements about our beliefs, plans, goals, expectations and intentions. Forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty, and there can be no assurance that the results described in such statements will be realized. Such statements are based on our current expectations and we undertake no obligation to publicly update or reissue any forward-looking statements. Risk factors that may cause the actual results to differ are described in this press release and in various documents we have filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009, and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.
© 2010, The St. Joe Company. "St. Joe," and the "Taking Flight" design are service marks of The St. Joe Company.
St. Joe Investor Contact:
Media Inquiries Regarding the Deepwater Horizon Litigation:
Travis J. Carter - Bickel & Brewer
St. Joe Media Contact:
James McCusker - ICR, LLC.