Things have been very busy in the BP Multi District Litigation in New Orleans. Claims against BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron continue to move forward at a brisk pace. The Limitation trial remains set for February 27, 2012 and is expected to last a few months. This trial will be the first real opportunity for the country, and likely the world, to learn what really happened leading up to this terrible disaster, one that will have a long-lasting and adverse effect on the Gulf Coast Region.
I suspect most people will be shocked to learn about the really bad conduct, as well as the attitude of certain companies involved in this tragic and avoidable disaster. A tremendous amount has been done by all of the lawyers working in the MDL and that will continue in order for the first trial to take place. Pretrial discovery, including a tremendous number of depositions, is going forward full force. All of the 19 lawyers from our firm who are working on this important litigation are very busy.
In June, depositions of BP executives were taken in England as part of the discovery process. The former BP CEO, Tony Heyward, was deposed. It will be very interesting when all that was uncovered in his deposition is made known to the public. Thus far, all of the depositions of key players from the various companies involved have gone very well. There will be many more depositions taken in the coming weeks.
So far, I understand that over 100,000 individuals and businesses have filed “short forms” and have joined the MDL and have given notice in the Limitation proceeding. Momentum is building for those who were harmed to have their claims resolved in a real court of law, as opposed to being under a claims facility run by the slippery BP snake oil salesman, Ken Feinberg. We hear almost daily from our clients that the treatment they received from his “claim center” is not fair, not transparent, and with no standards of compensation that make any sense.
Businesses and individuals all along the Gulf Coast have been harmed in a way that I don’t think Ken Feinberg or BP will ever understand or at least admit. Lots of folks in government may tell you “everything is fine” now, but let me assure you it’s not fine for the victims. The people of our Gulf Coast are tough and resilient – that much we know – but they are still hurting. Our lawyers have heard the real stories of businesses that have shut their doors, laid off employees, or worse. They also know about the individuals who have lost their homes and jobs. Folks on the coast have had to undergo counseling in an effort to survive emotionally.
No matter what BP may tell the media, or what their TV ads say, there are real concerns that remain environmentally, ecologically and financially. Folks on the coast – and businesses that depend on the coast – have a long way to go before things are anywhere near back to normal. BP said it would “make things right,” but that hasn’t happened so far. Let me close by saying that I have never seen any event that has impacted so much of our Gulf Coast over such an extended period of time and that will have such significant future consequences.
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