BP Settlement is intended to bolster BP’s public relations, but the BP oil spill is not an isolated case, says whistleblower
Kudos to reporter David Hammer of WWL TV in New Orleans. Hammer has just published an article exposing widespread cover-ups of Gulf oil spills. Hammer’s article begins:
It was something of an eye-opener when an oil company pleaded guilty to two environmental crimes in January. Â Not because the pollution reported was anything on the scale of the BP spill, but because of the brazen cover-up involved.”
The company, Houston-based W&T Offshore, admitted its workers had used coffee filters in October 2009 to clean oil and other minerals out of the water byproduct discharged overboard from their platform in the Ewing Banks 910 lease block, about 65 miles south of Port Fourchon.
They were filtering the oil out of the water samples that were sent into a lab and recorded with the federal government.
Meanwhile, the water they were dumping back into the Gulf on a constant basis stayed contaminated.
W&T also pleaded guilty to spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico in November 2009 and not reporting it to authorities, as required by law. The company agreed to pay $1 million in fines and community service for their crimes.
I (attorney Michael J. Evans, publisher of this blog) set up a blog entitled BPOilNews.com the week after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010. During the course of the spill, particularly during the early days, I hired a journalist and dispatched a videographer to take video to document the damage caused by BP. I’m not the only one to document BP’s coverup, Mother Jones and Pro Publica were both very aggressive in covering the story of the BP oil spill and the BP cover-up.
BPOilNews.com sent a videographer to document the damage, but sheriff’s deputies acting at the direction of BP employees blocked his access. And it wasn’t just our blog, BPOilnNews.com, that documented the cover-up. Others reported the cover-up, ad BPOilNews.com reported on the cover-up (see Oil spill pictures suggest a cover-up on Grande Isle â€“ sand being used to cover up the oil, published July 2, 2010 on BPOilNews.com. Our reporting about BP and the government’s violations of the public’s First Amendment rights was mentioned in a law review article by the Environmental Law Institute.
Alabama businesses deserve every penny they can collect from the BP Settlement
So if any of you think BP deserves a break when it comes to Alabama businesses filing claims in the BP settlement, please think again. BP has lied from May 2010 until the last time a BP official opened his mouth. BP does not deserve your pity; it should be held fully accountable for ALL economic damage it may have caused ANYWHERE in the State of Alabama.
BP’s most recent court filings have been multiple, repetitive motions asking the settlement judge to order the Settlement Administrator to quit paying “absurd claims” such as a $9.7 million dollar claim by a North Alabama paving contractor. BP has even filed a separate lawsuit against the BP Settlement Admiistrator, and has asked the appellate court to halt the payments and accelerate the appeal.
BP’s PR campaign regarding the BP settlement
BP has also engaged in an aggressive public relations campaign designed to convince people that businesses located hundreds of miles from the Gulf Coast should collect BP settlement money. BP’s public relations campaign has been directed at potential BP claims filers, in an effort to discourage them from filing. It’s also been directed at BP shareholders in Britain, where it seems to be playing to a receptive audience. One April 11, 2013 article states:
Angry British shareholders of oil giant BP urged the company Thursday to be more forceful in its legal fight against tens of billions of dollars in claims still being asserted by the U.S. government and several Gulf states affected by the 2010 oil spill. One suggested BP boycott Walt Disney World in Florida to get Americans â€œto come to their senses.â€
But refusing to pay claims in North Alabama directly contradicts what BP agreed to do in the Settlement Agreement that was approved in December 2012. Both the Settlement Administrator and the settlement judge have ruled that businesses in any part of Alabama are entitled to BP claims payments if they had reduced revenues during certain months in 2010, and if certain other tests are met. Significantly, BP did not put anything into the Settlement Agreement that would require a business to prove that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused its lower revenues. As an April 5, 2013 article states:
BP sought to block Juneau from making business economic loss payments to claimants in the agriculture, construction, professional services, real estate, manufacturing, wholesale trade and retail trade industries. The company alleges that claims for nonexistent losses are most prevalent among those industries.
But lawyers for the steering committee that represents plaintiffs in the settlement say BP agreed to the rules for how injuries would be determined and compensation would be calculated. They cited documents submitted by BP attorneys that they believe show the company fully understood the terms of the deal.
If BP underestimated its liability under the settlement, thatâ€™s the companyâ€™s problem and it shouldnâ€™t be allowed to push the rewind button now, the attorneys said in a letter to Barbier, previously filed under seal but released recently.
Provisions in the settlement calculate business economic losses partly by comparing a businessâ€™s revenue and variable costs during a certain period in 2010 with those numbers in previous years and in the year after the spill.
All economic losses during the period by businesses near the coast are presumed spill-related for purposes of the settlement, plaintiffsâ€™ lawyers say.
They say that for claimants farther from the coast but whose businesses operated anywhere in Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama or in designated regions of Texas and Florida, economic damage is presumed spill-related when it reaches specified percentages relative to other years.
Free review of BP claims for Alabama businesses
Before the BP class action settlement was approved in December, I (Michael J. Evans, attorney and publisher of this blog and the BPOilNews.com blog) worked with a group of lawyers headquartered in Texas to file BP lawsuits. Now that the BP settlement has been approved, I have formed a coalition with two other Birmingham law firms to try to guarantee that any Alabama business that qualifies for a BP settlement payment is able to collect all the money that it is owed.
Our coalition of three Birmingham law firms is made up of firms which all have decades of experience litigating class actions. We have retained accountants to help prove your BP claim. The BP settlement says that, if you retain attorneys and accountants to file your claim, and your claim is successful, your entire BP claim will be paid to you, and we (your lawyers) and your accountants will be paid separately from the BP settlement fund. Hiring us will not cost you any money for attorneys fees or accounting fees. We only get paid if you do. And if you don’t get your BP claim paid, we charge nothing. And we spell that our clearly in writing in our contract with you. You have no financial risk.
Don’t wait until your friends or competitors are collecting BP settlement checks. Act now–the cost is nothing–and if you’re entitled to money, wouldn’t you rather collect it sooner than later?
BP websites and Facebook Page
Please see our websites and Facebook page with information about filing a BP claim.
BP Settlement Videos
Below are a series of videos that Gusty Yearout and Lloyd Gathings have prepared that explain the BP settlement, and how you can get paid.
The law firms sponsoring this site are Yearout & Traylor, P.C., Gathings Law, and the Law Offices of Michael J. Evans, LLC. We are reviewing BP claims free of charge for businesses, professional people and sole proprietors all over Alabama. If you have never filed a BP claim, or if you’ve got filed BP claims still unpaid, please contact us to take advantage of our BP Claims Free Review.
Attorney Advertising Disclaimer: No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. The hiring of a law firm is a serious decision that should not be based on advertising alone.