Cast your mind back to May. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was at its peak and when it looked like all was lost, one man stepped forward with a ground-breaking solution – Kevin Costner. Costner, famous for starring in films such as The Untouchables, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Field of Dreams, announced that his company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, had developed a technology that could separate oil from water. The device apparently worked so well, that BP ordered 32 of the half-million dollar centrifuge machines for use in Gulf cleanup operations. However, Costner is now facing legal action from another member of Hollywood’s elite – Stephen Baldwin, over the ingenious invention.
Image © Gage Skidmore
Baldwin, brother of Alec, William and Daniel and star of The Usual Suspects, is claiming that he was “duped” into selling shares in Ocean Therapy Solutions just as BP was about to invest in the firm. As a result, he has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Waterworld star.
Baldwin is claiming he was forced to sell his shares and is claiming more than $4 million in damages while his fellow claimant, Spyridon Contogouris, is asking for more than $10 million. Both Baldwin and Contogouris were found as investors in April 2010 as Ocean Therapy Solutions was formed to market the centrifugal devices to BP. Baldwin and Mr. Contogouris allegedly purchased 10% and 28% stakes in the company respectively. They claim they were then forced to sell their stakes at the time the company was finalizing a deal to lease 32 of the machines to BP for approximately $52 million.
According to reports, both Baldwin and Contogouris sold their shares on 11 June 2010, only to find out a month later that the deal with BP had been signed on 12 June 2010. Speaking to The Los Angeles Times, Mr Baldwin said: “Mr Costner represented something one way when the facts were different. Myself and my partner are only seeking what is legitimately owed to us.”
Costner, who famously invested in the technology in the wake of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe, says Baldwin’s case is without merit and has requested all legal action be dismissed. He has added that “although he acted as a front man for the devices, he played no official role in the company responsible for distributing them.”
With the legal battle set to go to court, it looks like Costner and Baldwin are set to go head-to-head over Ocean Therapy Solution’s profits over the oil separating technology. As for how it performed in the Gulf? According to BP, the devices were “hardly used” during clean-up operations and have since been dismantled.