NEW ORLEANS -- Two celebrities, pitted against one another in a potential multi-million dollar legal battle over a business deal connected to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s not a script for a Hollywood South production; instead, it’s the gist of a real-life civil trial, scheduled to begin Monday at Federal Court in New Orleans.
Actor Kevin Costner faces a lawsuit over the sale of his oil extractor machines following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The suit comes from a financial backer of Costner's project -- fellow actor Stephen Baldwin.
After the spill, Costner -- who, for years, spent millions of his own dollars to develop the technology -- showcased the devices before Congress and, ultimately, scored a huge deal with BP.
According to the lawsuit, Baldwin and his partner claim they were squeezed out of the $52 million transaction through a buyout.
Legal analyst Chick Foret said it’s a case unlike any in recent memory in the city, because of its cast of litigants.
"We're gonna have a celebrity suing a celebrity, Baldwin versus Costner. There are gonna be serious allegations about fraud and about misrepresentation," he said.
The timeline in which events unfolded in 2010 will be critical to the case.
"Mr. Baldwin alleges that Mr. Costner duped Mr. Baldwin and his partner into this buyout, knowing, allegedly, that the BP negotiations were on the edge of being finalized and this massive contract was about to be executed," Foret said. "It seems to me that maybe one of the directions Mr. Costner might go, as a defendant in this case, is that he had taken a great deal of risk as it relates to these machines and he had invested millions of dollars."
Now, the fight goes before a jury on Poydras Street, in a trial that is expected to last two weeks.
Due to the seriousness of the allegations, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman has ordered Costner and Baldwin, along with others involved in the litigation, to be present for the duration of the trial.
It’s a high-stakes case -- one that Foret believes will involve both actors taking the stand.
"(Baldwin’s) attorneys will ask the jury to give them millions of dollars in damages. Mr. Costner and his attorney will say, 'We don't owe them anything, because they were bought out prior to the BP agreement,'" he said.
Thursday, attorneys on both sides declined interview requests, due to the pending litigation.