It seems as if it was just yesterday that we woke up to the news on April 21, 2010, that a large oil rig off the coast of Louisiana had exploded and caught fire overnight. Then day after day, we watched as the rig continued to burn, it listed, and ultimately sank to the bottom of the ocean. Eleven men died on that rig. Ultimately, the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon set off an environmental disaster that would hurt badly the entire Southeastern United States. Businesses, individuals and government entities lost billions of dollars. As the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) case formed and got off the ground, we learned firsthand that this disaster was not only preventable, but that BP and its contractors engaged in unprecedented conduct by completely ignoring all of the many warning signs that could have saved lives and billions in damages. All the red flags were ignored.
After negotiating for more than a year, with the best experts and lawyers that money could buy, BP finally reached a landmark Economic Settlement. All independent observers believed this settlement would bring closure for businesses and individuals along the Gulf Coast. BP even bragged in the media about the Settlement in its early days, lauding its transparent process and objective frameworks that were easily applied to all businesses and individuals who participated in the Settlement Program.
Since that time, BP has manufactured argument after argument in an attempt to renege on the Settlement and avoid paying what it had negotiated and agreed to. The giant oil company has attacked the Settlement in the media, spending millions in advertising to sway public opinion against the agreed-upon settlement. At the same time, BP has sought to taint the Claims Administrator and turn the Program into a witch hunt for fraud as opposed to a system of finality for Gulf Coast individuals and businesses.
After taking all of this in, it strikes me that John Minge, the BP President who recently bragged that no company has ever done more to help a region recover from an industrial disaster than BP, is grossly misleading the public. He seems to forget that one company — his own company — stands alone with its contractors as being solely responsible for the worst environmental disaster in United States history. It has caused billions of dollars in losses to our Coastal states. The adverse effects of the oil spill are not over. Most all of the businesses and individuals are still waiting to be compensated, even though a massive settlement was reached. Mr. Minge has declared victory and proclaimed that BP is ending cleanup operations. Large amounts of oil are still washing ashore on Gulf state beaches. By now, we all know, based on BP’s previous exploits, that this company simply cannot be trusted.
In closing, let me say that I am extremely proud of the work lawyers in our firm have done helping hundreds of individuals and businesses to receive compensation in this unprecedented disaster. The work has been extremely difficult, demanding and expensive. Our lawyers have worked around the clock for more than four years making sure our clients are taken care of. All of our Beasley Allen lawyers and staff are to be commended for their work during this very challenging case. As we move into the fifth year of the spill, we must never forget the lives lost and the need to hold BP and its contractors totally accountable.
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