• Kirk Hartley

BP Oil Rig Deposition Excerpts Now Appearing on YouTube and Other Media – What Will and/or Sho

Video-taped depositions create interesting media situations related to mass tort claims. For example, BP’s former CEO was deposed in June, 201, and excerpts are now online on YouTube (multiple videos will show up from a search for "Tony Hayward"). Apparently, however, there is a pretrial order purporting to preclude dissemination of excerpts from the depositions. The developments are described here by The Society of Environmental Journalists, which is the host for a website for environmental reporters, and in this related story by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. This Court order purports to require the return of the videos.

The litigants, the lawyers and the Court now face interesting dilemmas. Shall they stir up possible adverse publicity issues by actually forcing YouTube and others to return the videos? Also, should the order be continued or should it be withdrawn as ill-advised, and/or unconstitutional? After all, the public’s right to know is usually viewed as compelling in both legal and moral terms.

My bet? No one will force the return of the already leaked excerpts. There will, however, be various kinds of pressure applied behind the scenes to block other "leaks."

Mass tort litigation never was simple. It’s becoming even more complex thanks to the Internet and videos.

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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