Jury has delivered the verdict in a courtroom clash between Kevin Costner and Stephen Baldwin. After deliberating for less than two hours, the panel rejected the claim made by Baldwin. The actor and his friend Spyridon Contogouris claimed Costner and his business partner were to blame for their missing out on a lucrative contract with British Petroleum.
Costner and his partner Patrick Smith were accused by Baldwin and Contogouris of allegedly tricking them into selling their shares in Costner's company Ocean Therapy Solutions, the company that made oil spill cleanup machines. They said they didn't know BP placed a $52 million order when they sold their stock.
In the paperworks, Baldwin and Contogouris claimed Costner and Smith's lie has cost them millions of dollars. The 10% stake that Baldwin sold for $500,000 should have been worth $3.8 million, while the 28% stock sold by Contogouris for $1.4 million was worth $10.6 million.
Before the verdict was delivered, jurors heard eight days of testimony. Costner and Baldwin attended each day of the trial as ordered by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who thanked them for following the request. "I know that being here throughout the trial has been a great challenge for them," Feldman said.
One of the testimonies against the plaintiffs came from John Houghtaling, the CEO of Ocean Therapy Solutions. He said he had begged them not to sell their shares and promised them that a deal with BP was imminent. Another was from a BP contractor who testified that Baldwin had threatened to divulge personal information about Costner to the press if they couldn't resolve their dispute.
After the verdict, Costner said to awaiting reporters, "My name means more to me than money and that's why we didn't settle." He additionally applauded the jury for "doing their best to understand everything" in the case. He chimed in, "They were really smart, and it was my good luck that they saw the truth of the story."
Baldwin's attorney James Cobb, meanwhile, stated, "I believe we proved our case and because the bigger celebrity won." He added, "We're disappointed. We thought we proved rather convincingly that these two guys, Mr. Costner and [his business partner, Patrick] Smith, defrauded us...The jury saw it a different way but we respect the jury's verdict."
Costner's lawyer said, "This lawsuit never should have been brought. Mr. Costner never should have been a party to these proceedings."