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Court Won’t Hear Appeal in Phillips Petroleum Case

April 22, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal aimed at forcing a Phillips Petroleum Co. subsidiary to pay damages in a 1980 drilling rig accident in the North Sea that killed 123 people.

The court, without comment, let stand rulings that threw out a lawsuit against the subsidiary, Phillips Norway, filed in federal court in Ohio.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September upheld a ruling that federal courts in Ohio lacked jurisdiction over the suit, which stemmed from the March 27, 1980, capsizing of the Alexander L. Kielland drilling rig off Norway.

The rig was chartered by Phillips Norway from Stavenger Drilling company, a Norwegian firm.

The survivors of the accident and families of those who died conceded that Phillips Norway did not do business in Ohio. But they said the parent company, Phillips Petroleum of Bartlesville, Okla., did business in that state.

Phillips Norway operated an oil field in the North Sea called the Greater Ekofisk Development. The oil from the area was sold to Phillips Petroleum and accounted for 30 percent of the parent company’s total energy production in 1981, according to court documents.

Three of those who died in the sinking of the Alexander L. Kielland were said to be U.S. citizens, including one who lived in Ohio.

In throwing out the case, U.S. District Judge John M. Manos said those who sued failed to prove ″by a preponderance of the evidence that Phillips Norway’s separation from the commerce of Ohio is merely superficial.″

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