Blowout: Legal Legacy of the Deepwater Horizon Catastrophe

APRIL 13, 2011
Roger Williams University School of Law
Bristol, RI

One of our nation's worst environmental and human disasters began on April 20, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 people and injuring 17 others, and spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  What is the state of the law one year later as the human and environmental toll rises?  This conference convened national leaders, elected officials and legal experts to examine the law’s response to this calamity to date and consider the future legal legacy. Those attending considered issues of tort liability, natural resource damages, and changes to law and regulation contemplated by Congress and the President's National Commission.

Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, speaks to attendees during Panel 1’s presentations.  
Also shown is Stephen Da Ponte, Office of Maritime and International Law, 
U.S. Coast Guard, Garrett Graves, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, 
State of Louisiana, Sidney Shapiro, Associate Dean for Research and Development, 
Wake Forest University School of Law, and David Westerholm, 
Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service - NOAA

Fred Bartlit, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott and 
Susan Farady, RWU School of Law Marine Affairs Institute

Dean David Logan with Kevin Dean, Motley Rice, and Harold Chittum, Chittum Skiffs

Dean David Logan, RWU School of Law (seated) with Christopher McNally ’13, Alastair Deans ’11, 
Deborah Greenspan, Dickstein Shapiro LLP,  Donald Migliori, Motley Rice, 
George Conk, Fordham University School of Law, and Kristen Bonjour ‘13


David Pettit, Natural Resources Defense Council, Thomas Galligan, Colby-Sawyer College, 
Dean David Logan, Jonathan Waldron, Blank Rome LLP, Fred Bartlit, Bartlit Beck Herman 
Palenchar & Scott, and Dennis Nixon, University of Rhode Island




Dean David Logan's Blog - May 10, 2011 

Opening Remarks and Keynote by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (video-recorded):

Panel 1:
Moderator:  Michael Burger, Professor of Law, RWU School of Law
Stephen Da Ponte, Atty., U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Office of Maritime and International Law
Julie Eilperin, Report, The Washington Post
Garret Graves, Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, State of Louisiana
Sidney Shapiro, Associate Dean for Research and Development, Wake Forest University School
  of Law
David Westerholm, Director, Office of Response and Restoration, National Ocean Service, NOAA

Panel 2:
Moderator:  Susan Farady, Director, Marine Affairs Institute, RWU School of Law
Harold T. Chittum, III, Chittum Skiffs
Kevin Dean, Esq., Motley Rice
James J. Opaluch, Professor & Dept. Chair, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, 
  University of Rhode Island
Jill Rowe, Biologist, Applied Science Associates, Inc.

Panel 3:
Moderator:  David A. Logan, Dean, RWU School of Law
George W. Conk, Adjunct Professor & Sr. Fellow, Stein Center, Fordham University
   School of Law
Deborah E. Greenspan, Atty., Dickstein Shapiro LLP
Donald A. Migliori, Esq., Motley Rice

Keynote by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) (video-recorded) - see link at Panel 4

Panel 4:
Moderator:  Dennis Nixon, Associate Dean/Professor, University of Rhode Island
Fred J. Bartlit, Jr., Esq., Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, LLP and Chief 
   Counsel to National Commission on BP Depwater Horizon Oil Spill
Thomas C. Galligan, Jr., President and Professor of Humanities, Colby-Sawyer 
David Pettit, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
Jonathan K. Waldron, Esq., Blank Rome LLP

Panel 1:
Stephen Da Ponte
Garret Graves
Sidney Shapiro
David Westerholm

Panel 2:
Harold Chittum
Kevin Dean
James Opaluch
Jill Rowe

Panel 3:
George Conk
Deborah Greenspan
Donald Migliori

Panel 4:
Fred Bartlit
Jonathan Waldron


FINAL REPORT of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horzon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

The Environmental Law Institute has posted a data base that tracks the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cases. In addition, they have done a special issue of the Environmental Law Reporter devoted to the spill that is available to the public in its entirety, as well as links to other resources. The main page is at and you can access the data base, ELR issue, and other links from there.

BACKGROUND DOCUMENT on natural resource damages by Nicholas Paine, candidate for J.D. 2013.

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.