Judge: City-Run Trust Can't Get 'BP Secret,' Science Reports

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Lawyers for a trust controlled by the city of New Orleans cannot get copies of three projects labeled "BP Secret" and up to 15 scientific reports prepared for BP's lawyers, a federal magistrate has ruled.

         Wisner Donation Trust attorneys say the documents would help show that, during cleanup from the 2010 oil spill, BP did further damage to 35,000 acres the trust owns in Lafourche Parish. Historically, New Orleans has split trust revenue with Tulane University, Charity Hospital, the Salvation Army and Wisner descendants.

         Magistrate Judge Joseph Wilkinson Jr. ruled Friday that the "BP Secret" documents are irrelevant to Wisner's lawsuit, NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune’s Mark Schleifstein reported.

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         He said those include attorneys' legal advice and an analysis done for them; BP attorneys' evaluation of potential litigation about natural resource damage claims; and an internal BP effort "to evaluate the 'big picture' options for managing the ongoing spill response, none of which concerned the assessment of oil on Wisner property."

         And, he wrote, the other 12 to 15 scientific reports are protected because geologists prepared them for BP's attorneys as part of their eventual defense in Wisner's separate lawsuit over damage from the spill itself.

         Boston University geologist Duncan FitzGerald, a co-author, was originally hired by a BP contractor coordinating the cleanup. However, the reports in question were written while he worked for law firm representing BP, Wilkinson wrote.

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         FitzGerald had testified in a deposition that at times he wore two hats after the change, both advising the cleanup team and working for the attorneys.

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