In another egregious attempt to attack the very settlement it negotiated and agreed to, BP is continuing its efforts to remove the court-appointed claims administrator overseeing payouts under its Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement. The oil giant told the Fifth Circuit during a hearing that the administrator, Patrick Juneau, acted as a litigator against BP before he was appointed and failed to disclose it. BP is appealing Judge Carl Barbier’s decision denying its bid to disqualify Juneau. In November, Judge Barbier found that a claims administrator, appointed in a privately negotiated settlement agreement, is not bound by the same recusal rules as a federal judge or a special master under Rule 35, and therefore Juneau did not have to disclose possible grounds for disqualification when he was appointed. Importantly, Judge Barbier ruled that BP knew about Juneau’s prior work, pointing to records that completely contradicted BP’s attempts to oust him.
At the end of the day, BP is attacking Juneau for doing exactly what BP – and the Court – have asked him to do, which is to implement and process claims under the terms of the settlement agreement. BP is simply trying to remove Juneau to slow claims payments down and distract the Facility from doing its job. However, based on the recent history, BP’s actions should come as no surprise. The company has repeatedly pushed for frequent, widespread, cumbersome, intrusive and expansive investigation, examination, analysis and adjustment of claims, only to turn around and disingenuously attack the Claims Administrator with respect to expense and inefficiency.
I will give BP credit for two things- one is that they are very good at the public relations game – and two, they don’t give up easily. Sadly their safety performance has been terrible. Hopefully, the corporate management group will eventually learn that safety has to be a top priority for the oil giant.
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