I was shocked to learn that one of three law firms appointed by Ken Feinberg in late December to advise people filing damage claims through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility had been working for BP since at least June. Feinberg, who is also working for BP, was aware that the Mississippi-based law firm had been working for BP when he chose the firm to advise individuals and businesses who had claims against BP. If what Feinberg did seems most unusual, I can assure you that it definitely was!
Feinberg hired the three law firms to offer free legal advice to Claimants. To accept a final payment through Feinberg’s ever-changing process, Claimants must sign a waiver promising they will not seek future compensation from BP or any of the other wrongdoers involved in the spill. Consider that the Mississippi lawyers were representing BP, and at the same time, would be advising folks who have claims against BP. It’s elementary that a lawyer can’t represent parties with opposing interests. That’s so basic that anybody – including Feinberg – had to have known it. This certainly appears to be a direct conflict.
I understand that lawyers from the Mississippi firm drafted contracts that were distributed to university scientists along the Gulf Coast and promised lucrative consulting fees to those who agreed to be a part of BP’s legal defense against the federal lawsuit filed over the spill. Those contracts described the Mississippi lawyers as BP lawyers. Fortunately, Feinberg “saw the light” and withdrew this appointment of BP lawyers to represent BP’s victims.
A nonprofit group had asked Attorneys General in the Gulf Coast states to pressure the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and BP PLC to release all documents and contracts connecting the two entities. This was a reasonable request, especially in view of recent developments. Joanne Doroshow, the Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, sent a letter to the Attorneys General making this request. In her letter, Joanne wrote:
Of all firms that Mr. Feinberg could hire, he chose this one to offer ‘free legal advice’ to victims filing damage claims against BP, asking them to release BP of all future liability. That Mr. Feinberg sees no ethical problem here is stunning.
Ms. Doroshow’s group made a similar information request of Feinberg and BP several weeks back, but she got no response. All of Feinberg’s contracts with BP must be made public. It’s not in anybody’s best interest to let this man and BP’s claims group operate in the dark.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.