On Thursday September 4th 2014, Judge Carl J. Barbier, a federal judge in New Orleans, found the company British Petroleum (BP) guilty of “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” in the April 20, 2010 explosion of the BP-owned oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a great and timely example of the importance of legal language.
The choice of words in Judge Barbier’s decision is interesting. “Gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” are not commonly heard. They are not simple everyday phrases. Legally, these four words hold a great deal of meaning. Anastasia Pantsios, a writer for www.ecowatch.com explains the judge’s word choices for this particular situation in this way: “The difference between a finding of “negligence” and “recklessness” is significant, possibly exposing BP to claims beyond the 2012 $9.2 billion settlement it reached with most non-governmental plaintiffs.”
The language of legal decision making is part science and partly an art as well. The words we choose and use have important meaning both in and out of legal spheres. If you want to learn more about the language of a piece of litigation that is important to you, ask us. We love to talk about the rich, meaningful and sometimes complex language of law. And unfortunately, we have a lot of experience with cases where there is “gross negligence” and/or “willful misconduct”.
We’ll walk you through the confusing parts and clearly explain the importance, power and beauty of the legal language of your case, because it is important to us that you understand the meaning to the laws, rulings and decisions that are important to you.