BP Mounts Ad Campaign Challenging Payouts to Businesses Affected by 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Posted in BP British Petroleum,Deepwater Horizon,Gulf Coast,Jones Act,Louisiana Maritime News on June 28, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, La. — BP Oil has mounted an aggressive ad campaign placing full-page advertisements scheduled for publication on Wednesday, June 26, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. The ad accuses “trial lawyers and some politicians” of encouraging Gulf Coast businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or nonexistent losses.

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The purpose of the ad campaign is to challenge billions of dollars in settlement payouts that may have to be paid to businesses that claim to have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

“Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it’s wrong for anyone to take money they don’t deserve,” the ad says. “And it’s unfair to everyone in the Gulf — commercial fishermen, restaurant and hotel owners, and all the other hard-working people who’ve filed legitimate claims for real losses.”

Prior to the ad, BP wrote a letter on Tuesday and warned lawyers for many Gulf Coast businesses that it may seek to recover at least some of their clients’ shares of the multibillion-dollar settlement if it successfully appeals a key ruling that takes place on July 8, when a three-judge panel from the Fifth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is scheduled to hear BP’s appeal case.

Video shows how BP determines the legitimacy of claims of lost income from fishermen who have only dealt in cash.

The appeals case is about the ruling made April 2013 by Judge Carl J. Barbier of Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana which upheld a court-appointed claims administrator’s interpretation of the multi-billion dollar settlement it reached with a group of lawyers for plaintiffs.

Daniel Cantor, BP’s company lawyer wrote in the letter, “BP reserves whatever rights it may have to pursue any legal method to recover such overpayments,”

BP’s ad claims Judge Barbier’s ruling “interprets the settlement in a way no one intended” and results in settlement payouts to businesses that did not suffer any spill-related losses.

“Even though we’re appealing the misinterpretation of the agreement, we want you to know that the litigation over this issue has not in any way changed our commitment to the Gulf,” it says.

Geoff Morrell, BP spokesman, said the ad was consistent with the company’s effort to keep the public informed of its economic and environmental restoration efforts.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers claim BP simply undervalued the cost of settlement.

Blog posted by Louisiana maritime lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP.

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