Maybe someone will write a book one day about how BP has attempted to completely manipulate the judicial process, the media and an entire region to get its way. All of this coming after the company had caused yet another landmark disaster, killed 11 people and committed numerous felonies along the way. Almost a year ago, Beasley Allen lawyers were present in court and watched BP stand in front of Judge Barbier and strongly and with conviction support the Economic Settlement. The company praised the deal as fair – as one that provides true compensation – and as one that sought certainty over years and years of mini-trials and case-by-case evaluations. The company even admitted that “false positives” were inevitable in a settlement of this magnitude.
At the same time that BP’s lawyers stood before Judge Barbier, the company and its lawyers well knew that the claims administrator was processing claims pursuant to the objective causation principles BP had previously agreed to. BP was even asked by the Claims Administrator whether the company had any objection to the way the causation process was working – namely was there any other causation test outside of the straightforward revenue and zone requirements of the Settlement? In response, BP told him no. Judge Barbier asked the same question of BP weeks later, and again, BP agreed in open court that the revenue frameworks set out in Exhibit 4B of the Settlement Agreement were the only causation test. At press time, BP agreed that no subjective, case-by-case evaluations would be necessary to meet causation.
So what happened to bring about such a 180 then by BP? I believe it resulted from a combination of greed and arrogance. Apparently, the company does not want to pay supported claims anymore, much like the company operated after the first round of payments in the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF). BP’s greed and arrogance undermined and destroyed the GCCF. Now the company is trying to destroy a settlement it carefully negotiated and agreed to – one that would have compensated thousands and ended years and years of litigation. Once it became obvious that BP would have to pay more than it had thought, and that the company would actually have to cede control of the program to a neutral administrator, a person the company could not control, all bets were off. Ironically, BP would much rather pour billions of dollars into advertising firms, experts, newspapers and law firms attacking the Settlement Program than it would to pay residents and businesses along the Gulf Coast for their losses.
We should not be surprised by how low BP will go to get its way. There is one thing for sure – and that is, the company has declared war on anyone and anything that could remotely support the Settlement. At the end of the day, the company made a deal with the region we all call home, publicly endorsed that deal, and now they are trying to buy and intimidate their way out of it. While we should not be surprised, the system must hold them to their word. After all, without your word and credibility, what else do you truly have?
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