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Kevin Costner prevails in business fraud lawsuit

Those who read our June 6 blog post may be curious about the results of a lawsuit brought by actor Stephen Baldwin against fellow thespian Kevin Costner earlier in June. We can now report that Baldwin and the other plaintiff have lost their suit after the jury found for Costner and his business partner. The jury did not believe that the plaintiffs established their claim that Costner committed fraud by convincing them to sell their shares in a company that marketed an oil spill cleanup device.

As we previously discussed, Costner developed the concept of a centrifuge to separate crude oil from ocean water following a spill while making the 1995 movie "Waterworld." He later started a company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, to develop the devices. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion caused millions of barrels of oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Ocean Therapy Solutions offered to sell centrifuges to BP.

On June 8 of that year, BP agreed to buy 32 of the machines and put up an $18 million deposit on them.

That is where Baldwin's lawsuit comes in. He and his business partner were investors in Ocean Therapy Solutions, but claimed that shortly before the June 8 meeting, Costner and another partner persuaded the plaintiffs to sell their shares back to them for a total of $1.9 million. In the suit, Baldwin and the other plaintiff accused Costner and the other defendant of deliberately excluding them from the profits of the BP sale.

The trial concluded on June 14. After deliberating for less than two hours, found the defendants not guilty on all counts.

After the verdict was announced, Costner said he had avoided settling the litigation because "my name means more to me than money. That's why we wanted to get to the truth of this."

Source: Reuters, "Kevin Costner wins lawsuit brought by Stephen Baldwin," Leslie Snadowsky, June 14, 2012

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