A judge presiding over more than 300 lawsuits arising from the Gulf Coast oil spill says the first federal trial involving damage claims could be held next summer.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier says the first "test trial" for claims filed against energy giant BP PLC by individuals and businesses under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act could start as early as June 2011.
A BP lawyer objected to scheduling a trial that soon. But Barbier said if he were to accept the company's timetable, the first trial wouldn't begin until 2013 or 2014.
Barbier has scheduled a separate trial in February 2012 to assign percentages of fault to BP and other companies sued in connection with the rig explosion and fire that led to million gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf.