5:38pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Kevin Costner Beats Stephen Baldwin in Oil Cleanup Trial
A federal jury has sided with Kevin Costner after a trial in which actor Stephen Baldwin claimed he was duped into selling shares of an oil cleanup company that made millions after the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.
The AP is reporting that a jury in New Orleans reached a verdict in the case in less than two hours.
Baldwin and partner Spyridon Contogouris sought at least $17 million in damages as their share of a contract with BP that was to pay Ocean Therapies Solutions, a company that marketed a technology Costner developed, about $52 million to help clean up the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Baldwin argued that he and Contogouris were persuaded to sell shares in OTS for $500,000 and $1.2 million, respectively, right before BP's $52 million order of 32 of the company's centrifuges. Costner's team was said to have created the impression that BP wasn't going to make an order.
At the end of a weeklong trial, Baldwin and Contogouris' lawyer asked the eight-member jury to award them more than $17 million in damages. But the jury gave them nothing.
Outside the courtroom, Costner said he was grateful for the victory.
"My name means more to me than money, and that's why we didn't settle," he said shortly after the verdict, according to the AP.
Baldwin attorney James Cobb said he was disappointed. "We thought we proved rather convincingly that these two guys, Mr. Costner and Mr. Smith, defrauded us," he told the AP. "The jury saw it a different way, but we respect the jury's verdict."
The case featured extensive testimony from both actors. Costner testified that OTS had become "dysfunctional" with Baldwin as a shareholder and "I never saw him do anything." A witness testified Wednesday that Baldwin had theatened to leak personal information about Costner to the media if Baldwin wasn't paid a big settlement.
At the same time, Costner and partner Patrick Smith "came down and squeezed out the Louisiana guys by fraudulently deceiving them," Baldwin's attorney told the jury during the trial.