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If an oil company negligently caused an oil spill, then does the $75 million liability cap apply?

No.  While the Oil Pollution Act limits the liability of a “responsible party” offshore oil rig to the total of all removal costs plus $75,000,000, the law also lists several exceptions to that limited liability.  Specifically, if the responsible party is found to have done any of the following, the $75M liability cap doesn't apply: 

  • Caused the incident by gross negligence or willful misconduct;
  • Caused the incident as the result of violation of an applicable Federal safety, construction, or operating regulation;
  • Didn't report the incident as required by law;
  • Didn't cooperate with the proper officials or the Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) in charge of the spill cleanup; or
  • Didn't comply with government orders related to the spill cleanup.