NEW ORLEANS -- The top BP supervisor on the Deepwater Horizon rig when it exploded in 2010 and set off the Gulf of Mexico oil spill lost his appeal Thursday as he tries to avoid testifying in a civil case.
Donald Vidrine, one of two BP employees charged with manslaughter in the deaths of 11 rig workers, has contended since the accident that he was too ill to testify before accident investigators or in federal court.
His testimony could shed significant light on what happened in the final moments before the rig blew, although even if he is found competent to testify, he is unlikely to give significant testimony in the civil case while he also faces criminal charges.
Last year, a federal magistrate judge ordered Vidrine to undergo a medical evaluation by a court-selected psychiatrist and asked Vidrine’s psychotherapist to turn over his records, to determine if he was capable of testifying.
He appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Thursday a three-judge panel determined it did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Vidrine still has the option to ask for reconsideration, and Vidrine’s attorney Bob Habans said they are evaluating their options.
He declined to comment on his client’s medical condition, but Vidrine looked dazed and said nothing when he was arraigned on the criminal manslaughter and water pollution charges in November.