BP has plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges in the disaster that resulted in the deaths of eleven men in the Gulf of Mexico over two-and-a-half years ago.

Judge Sarah Vance heard testimony from relatives of the 11 victims before rendering her decision to approve the largest criminal payment in the history of the United States - $4.5 billion. Loyola University law professor Dane Ciolino says this "landmark criminal fine" will be payed out by BP over the next 5 years. But Ciolino says this is far from the end of the legal ripples caused by the April 2010 rig explosion:

Even though the criminal charges are now behind BP it doesn't mean that this case is over for them. They still face $5 billion to perhaps as many as $20 billion in Clean Water Act civil fines.

Ciolino says Tuesday's plea deal resolves the matter against BP, but there are still three individual BP employees charged with criminal conduct in the disaster. He says the size of Tuesday's penalty agreement is sure to make other Gulf oil & gas drillers take serious notice:

BP got its bell rung for $4 billion in this criminal matter and it's facing billions and billions of more civil liability. I think everybody understands the importance of industrial safety on rigs.