Image courtesy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

A federal court dropped manslaughter charges against two former BP supervisors Wednesday tied to the death of 11 workers during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident.

A three panel judge on the U.S. 5th Circuit Appeals Court upheld a lower court decision to drop federal seamans’ manslaughter charges against Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine.

Kaluza and Vidrine were two of the highest ranking supervisors on the Deepwater Horizon rig at the time of the accident.

The panel affirmed a 2013 district court ruling that said the seamans’ charges do not apply because the two men were not responsible for the”marine operations, maintenance and navigation” of a ship as defined in the statue, Reuters said.

“The statute was enacted to address the dangers of travel by steamboat, and it is persons responsible for that travel that should be held liable under the statute. [The] defendants were not responsible for the travel of the Deepwater Horizon,” 5th Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote.

The initial indictment accused the men of being negligent and grossly negligent while supervising well testing on the rig before the accident.

BP is facing up to $13.7 billion in fines for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The penalty phase of the Deepwater Horizon trial began in January.


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