By DiMarkco Chandler
Oil companies took the legal oxygen out of the air today as both Lucy Lawless and Stephen Baldwin were on the short end of justice. We first learned that Kevin Costner will not have to pay Stephen Baldwin a nickel since a jury ruled in favor of the defendant. In December 2010, Baldwin filed a $3.8 million lawsuit against Costner, claiming that the “I Will Always Love You” costar hid information that was essential to his investment in Costner’s oil separation machines company and subsequent contract that consummated after Baldwin and his partner, Spyridon Contourgis, sold their shares. Specifically, Baldwin asserted that if he had known that BP had put a $52 million order in for the devices, he would have held on to his shares. Nevertheless, the jury did not see it that way and ruled in favor of Costner, leaving Baldwin and Contourgis empty handed.
Lucy Lawless, who played Xena: Warrior Princess, plead guilty to illegally occupying an oil drilling ship. Lawless had been arrested along with seven other defendants for scaling the 53m-high derrick of the ship and then placed a banner that read ‘Stop Shell, Save the Arctic.” Initially, they were charged with burglary, but when the prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges to illegally boarding a ship, Lawless and her codefendants accepted responsibility.
Both cases drew national media attention. Of course, since Baldwin’s case went to trail, reporters flocked to it on a daily basis.
If not for the celebrity of the defendants, perhaps these cases would have skipped quietly underneath the radar. It arguably took names like Costner, Baldwin and Lucy Lawless to put a spotlight on oil company practices. In that effort, Lawless’ case was much more successful in illuminating the issues.