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Alabama Trial Lawyer Grills BP’s Hayward

Robert Cunningham

Robert Cunningham

Mobile lawyer Robert Cunningham had the job a lot of Gulf Coast residents would envy last month when he took a legal deposition from BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward.

During the two-day opening deposition, as reported in the New York Times, Cunningham challenged Hayward repeatedly over the quality of BP’s internal investigation into the disaster that killed 11 rig workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

“While BP’s team examined immediate causes and events leading up to the blast on the rig itself,” the Times reported on the legal challenge, “it did not include what Mr. Cunningham referred to as ‘root causes,’ those involving management and corporate culture, and which the company’s own policies call for after major accidents.

“Mr. Cunningham insisted that the BP inquiry constituted only ‘two-thirds of [your] standard investigation,’” the paper reported.

Hayward and his lawyers fought back, saying that the investigation was complete and that the company values safety—that it was among the first comments whenever he talked to workers.

The Times account concluded with a superhero-sized spat: “But Mr. Cunningham scoffed, ‘If the first words out of your mouth every time you open it were ‘I am Superman,’ that wouldn’t make you Superman, would it?’”

“To which a lawyer for BP responded, ‘Objection to form.’”

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