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    BP Ready to Vigorously Defend Itself in Oil Spill Civil Trial

    If found guilty, the oil company could face billions of dollars more in damages.

    LONDON -- Although BP settled with the U.S. Department of Justice by pleading guilty to criminal charges in its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and agreeing to pay $4.5 billion in penalties, the company stated today it reached no such settlement in advance of next week's civil trial stemming from the same incident.

    In fact, BP stated it is ready to vigorously defend itself against allegations of gross negligence in what amounts to the United States' biggest environmental disaster, reported the Associated Press.

    "Gross negligence is a very high bar that BP believes cannot be met in this case," Rupert Bondy, BP's general counsel, told the news outlet."This was a tragic accident, resulting from multiple causes and involving multiple parties. We firmly believe we are not grossly negligent."

    The Deepwater Horizon civil case is set to begin Feb. 25 in New Orleans. If BP is found guilty of gross negligence, experts believe the oil company would have to pay billions of dollars more in damages.

    The trial aims to identify the causes of BP's well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico disaster that killed 11 workers and spilled 200 million gallons of oil, reported the AP.

    During BP's most recent earnings conference call, CEO Bob Dudley declined to discuss specifics about the civil trial.

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