Sunday, August 01, 2010

Now it's news?

BP offers one-off payouts to stem Gulf oil spill lawsuits

This is pretty amazing.  We had to wait for a British paper to inform us of the BP/Feinberg payout plan.  Read this carefully:

The fund does not cap BP's liabilities at $20bn. But privately the company believes that it will not have to pay out anywhere near this sum. BP has hired a battery of lawyers to protect itself, and so far it has paid out $261m in claims.

When Feineberg takes over this month, for the first time claimants will be offered a one-off sum based on their future lost earnings, provided they agree not to sue BP.

"The fund will offer lump sum payments in return for an agreement not to pursue claims in court," a spokeswoman said. Claimants will also be able to receive an emergency payout to cover their lost income for up to six months without waiving their right to sue BP. BP had been making monthly payouts.

It's simply amazing that our local Gulf Coast media resources never got around to reporting this.  If there is a media outlet on the Gulf Coast who gives a damn about the people it serves, at the very least they would have reported the payout clause and at the most they should be calling for Feinberg to be replaced by a lawyer or a group of lawyers from the Gulf Coast region.  Instead Feinberg got a love letter and was portrayed as the messiah.  


Anonymous said...

They do give a damn about the people they serve, Zombie.

People who work for news outlets serve the advertizers, and the men their owners golf and drink with, the oil men, and the lawyers, judges, and politicians beholden to oil.

Get on the wrong side of someone important, and boy, do you ever learn how interconnected everything is.

They stand to lose access and money, so they are worse than gutless.

100 days to the next round of elections, and I'm thinking, if the dolphins busy dying or bleeding from every orifice had a vote, who would they vote for?

How would dolphins vote?

Drake Toulouse said...

No kidding...I've been reading about this on the blogs and actually written a thing or two myself, but the info never came from a mainstream source...never.

If I weren't such a cynic, I'd cry.

rcs said...

It's simply amazing that our local Gulf Coast media resources never got around to reporting this.

The Mobile Press-Register, among others, covered this on July 24th.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Relaaaaxe...they got'yo backs:
[But lawyers argue that the calculation of future lost earnings is a tough task and it is also not known that whether the claimants would receive more compensation if they decided to sue BP in the courts. Brent Coon, a Houston-based lawyer, said: "These are mostly uneducated people."]

Cousin Pat said...

I thought the one-time lump payment in exchange for not filing suit was pretty standard business practice for every entity facing claims.

Carmen said...

Spray your aerosol cans! Pollute the rivers! Use lead paint in toys! Let's bring back asbestos! And sell more Chinese drywall!

The same people who are selling us global warming and other fright messages are now telling us the use of dispersants is not going to lead to long term effects. No cancers! Sign the documents you won't sue later! Dispersants are no more toxic than the oil itself, says the EPA as parroted by CNN.

Don't the politicians get it yet? My kid doesn't understand why his cat randomly bites him: I tell him it's because he sends mixed messages. You can't train the unthinking masses to do what you want, vote as you want, if you contradict every prior claim.

Cousin Pat said...

Maybe I'm just missing something, but it appears those filing claims here have three options:

A) Settle now, recieve X dollars and agree not to sue BP in the future;

B) Do not settle now, reserve the right to sue BP and others in the future;

C) Recieve payments for six months while trying to decide.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, and I may have this all the way wrong. But with the exception of Option C, is this very different from standard options regarding litigation anywhere in the United States? Didn't they do this on behalf of the airlines after September 11th?

I'm not saying I like it, but I'm not understanding the surprise/indignation very well. I pretty much figured this is how it would be done when the $20BN was first announced. Was there a statement somewhere that indicated this would not happen this way?

Carmen said...

Hey, Cousin Pat. The difference may be context, as in the Obama administration and BP both trying to press the claim that BP is going to pay for damage done. The Obama administration may believe in health care reform, but if cancers arise in two decades' time and the law has set precedent such that BP bears no further responsibility, then it is we the taxpayers who bear the final cost. And so, in context, we are being sold a terrible lie, and even those who may not articulate that well can FEEL it.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Pat, they have also stated that if you have worked for BP in the clean up you are not allowed to file for the 6 month emergency period. They forced those workers in the clean up crews not to wear respirators...they are undoubtedly going to have health issues. The final claim can only be projected out to 3 years of the spill's impact and that amount is going to be assessed after you file the claim and agree not to sue again or try to amend your losses. The devil is in the details here and the health effects and economic effects of this spill are going to be felt well past 3 years.

Right out of the gate Feinberg was using fear tactics to get everyone to accept the terms of his deal...terms which all our MSM resources failed to outline and in the case of the TP even promoted without actually describing the terms.

Why would you send a reporter to a forum where Feinberg is laying out the terms of the settlements and not report what the terms are? WTF?

Feinberg was placed in his position by Obama and we know absolutely nothing of his contract or what his motivations are, despite his declaration that he is beholden to no special interests. We have already shown that he has three of the top oil companies on his client list. How can he be completely objective when he is representing companies which have a direct interest in the industry?

Why was he chosen over local arbitrators who we know have a vested interest in protecting the fisherman of the Gulf Coast?

I believe this whole scheme is set up to limit BP's liability in this disaster. I think Feinberg is a corporate schill and they are using fear tactics to force settlements with us in order to limit and protect the company from liability.

We are going to see very long lasting health effects from this spill...we need legal protection that understands that and will hold BP accountable over that period.

Anonymous said...

"We are going to see very long lasting health effects from this spill..."

OMG, that is so scary!!!!!

Mind telling me who is saying this and where they are saying it?

Jason Brad Berry said...

You know, those silly Wilma Supra. Folks who endured the Valdez spill.

But I bet you don't hold much stock in all that science bullshit, huh?

Just can't stay away can you?

Cousin Pat said...

Thanks, Carmen and AZ.

While the context is troubling, I would think that future assumed health risks are very, very difficult to prove in court.

But that explains better where you're coming from, and I can understand that.

There is a real kicker: "The final claim can only be projected out to 3 years of the spill's impact and that amount is going to be assessed after you file the claim and agree not to sue again or try to amend your losses."

OK, now that's something I've never heard of happening. Not so much the 3 years part (again, did the claimant ever smoke a cigarette?), but the "you-waive-your-rights-to-sue-before-getting-a-settlement-number."

That's a fairly steep leap of faith they're asking for right there, isn't it?

Jason Brad Berry said...

Yeah it is something but I'm really interested in the workers they've hired who they didn't allow to wear respirators. I hope none of them sign waivers.

Carmen said...

Hi, Pat. You wrote: "While the context is troubling, I would think that future assumed health risks are very, very difficult to prove in court." We are not talking about proving future assumptions, but of protecting legal rights should such assumptions prove founded. And then it is perhaps difficult but not impossible to show cause and effect, as Erin Brockovich demonstrated.

And with this being primarily a foreign corporate power, I think Obama should be very, very careful at what loopholes he allows BP to pass through.

Carmen said...

Another legal argument may hinge on BP's paying claimants for what is essentially business interruption and loss not precluding future suits if/when health issues arise from the same catastrophic event. To allow settled claims on business or employment to supercede health care claims is virtually the opposite of workman's comp laws, and can set a dangerous precedent. You mentioned 9/11; I believe the first responders are struggling with legislation right now which could tie in here, and again the EPA was front and center with assurances of health safety.

And again, this is a majority foreign corporation. But our government is doing the assuring.