Florida real estate developer St. Joe Co. is suing Halliburton Co. over its role in the rig explosion that led to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
St. Joe filed the suit late Wednesday in Delaware Superior Court. It said Halliburton, which was responsible for encasing BP's subsea well in concrete, ignored safety procedures and didn't properly manage the process.
The cause of the blowout has not yet officially been determined. Multiple investigations are ongoing. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Halliburton, operator BP, and the rig's owner, Transocean Ltd.
St. Joe went after Halliburton first because it was thought to be the quickest way to collect damages and repay shareholders, said William Brewer, a partner at Bickel & Brewer and lead counsel for St. Joe. The company plans to sue other companies as well.
St. Joe is the Florida panhandle's largest private landowner, with 70 percent of its 577,000 acres within 15 miles of the coast. Since the rig explosion in April, St. Joe says the value of its properties has declined. Its stock has lost 23 percent since the April 20 incident; at one point it had dropped 40 percent. At its worst point, the company lost about $1.4 billion in market capitalization.
Halliburton, based in Houston, said in a statement that "allegations in this lawsuit appear to be without merit and we will vigorously contest it in court."