When British oil giant BP agreed to pay the U.S. government $4.5 billion for the massive oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, litigants in tens of thousands of cases spawned from the BP disaster began watching closely. One vital question is: How does BP's record-breaking settlement and admission of guilt affect these other cases? Both civil and criminal.
None more so than in the case of Kurt Mix.
The federal government raised the stakes Friday in civil litigation over the 2010 Gulf oil spill, joining other plaintiffs in asking a judge to rule that workers' refusal to testify amounted to unfavorable evidence against companies involved in the accident.
While such a finding only would apply in civil proceedings - failure to testify cannot be evidence against criminal defendants - the Justice Department's move raises the pressure on BP and others involved in settlement negotiations with the government, and a lawyer for one of the workers said he expects more criminal charges soon.