A recent (and scathing) article in the Los Angeles Times took BP to task for its bad behavior over the past several months regarding its oil spill settlement. The article accuses officials at BP of displaying an unseemly buyer’s remorse regarding the settlement agreement it reached back in 2012 with private plaintiffs across the Gulf Coast who suffered damages as a result of the catastrophic oil spill.
At the time the settlement was reached, BP said that it “wanted to do the right thing” and ensure that victims of its mistakes would be compensated for the harm they endured thanks to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent spill. BP and a group of plaintiffs agreed that the settlement was in everyone’s best interest and would avoid forcing victims to file their cases individually, dramatically streamlining the claims process.
However, the good feelings surrounding the settlement agreement back in 2012 have long since evaporated and BP has devoted enormous time, money and energy into attacking the very agreement it worked so long and hard to craft. Recently, BP has dialed up the rancor of its attack, taking out full-page ads in newspapers across the region calling out individuals and businesses it said received settlement money they did not deserve.
Examples of the ads include one that attacks Emeril Lagasse, accusing the “celebrity chef” of walking away with $8 million in settlement claims money. BP took out another ad to criticize the awarding of $173,000 to an “adult escort service.” In both cases, BP attacked the victims, never bothering to point out how the money paid was undeserved.
Beyond the vicious PR attacks, BP has also launched a legal salvo against the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau. In a recent federal court case, BP won a temporary restraining order that prevents Juneau from making additional payments. In the long run, BP says that it will ask the court to award a permanent injunction against claims payouts so that it has time to completely overhaul the language included in the settlement agreement.
According to plaintiffs’ attorneys, the squabbling is only happening now that BP realizes the mistake it made entering into a settlement agreement without a cap on damages. The wording of the agreement says that payments will continue to be made as long as claims roll in. BP appears to have woefully underestimated its financial exposure and is now seeking to get out of the commitment it made with injured individuals and business across the Gulf Coast.
The idea that Juneau and the settlement claim office has been approving claims without carefully scrutinizing them is ridiculous. Numbers released last week showed that of the more than 270,000 claims filed with Juneau, only 63,000 have been approved. Juneau’s office has already denied more than 52,000 claims with tens of thousands of others being withdrawn or closed.
If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, please don’t hesitate to contact the Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at toll free 601-707-4669.
Source: “BP gets slick in trying to undermine gulf oil spill settlement,” by Michael Hilzik, published at LATimes.com.
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