I have seen this look before. Panic and loss have a certain emotional face where people need compassion and then a plan. Over my only meal of the day late last night, I told my client, Dewey Destin and his wife that I felt proud to be an American and part of the Gulf Coast community because of the way people were responding to very dire circumstances. Fishermen were volunteering and politely demanding that their knowledge of local waters be used to help mitigate the impact of oil. Engineers were suggesting ingenious methods of oil prevention and clean up. Local leaders such as State Senator Don Gaetz and Florida DEP Secretary Mike Sole were candid and helpful with these requests.
My Hurricane Ike clients may understandably wonder why I am not in Houston, but as I stated this morning in the Northwest Daily News article, "Local resident, condominium group sue over oil spill," — "This spill could be epic." Our law firm is helping provide some guidance regarding this catastrophe that is occurring even before the spill hits.
After September 11, the outpouring of support by Americans doing anything they could to help others was touching. This tragedy is similar with some amusing anecdotes. I have the honor of representing a renowned engineer, Monzer Hourani, in his corporation’s Hurricane Ike insurance dispute against Safeco and Liberty Mutual. Monzer is a brilliant and rather eccentric structural engineer. Apparently, he quickly devised an oil spill device and was on CNN explaining it last night. Monzer is no stranger to personal disaster growing up in Lebanon and losing his mother at an early age to war. He was educated and worked his way to becoming a successful businessman and respected professional in Houston. His efforts are being repeated by thousands as we band together and protect ourselves the best we can from the calamity. We are truly all in this together.
I am sometimes not the biggest fan of class action lawsuits because some of my colleagues are more interested in making money than maximizing their clients’ recoveries. We filed a class action lawsuit yesterday. I am proud of it and of our class representatives. Dewey Destin is a fifth generation fisherman and Destinite. His business and two restaurants face ruin if the oil hits as bad as it might. He has asked us to provide leadership and do what we can to convince political leaders of the need for creative and quick solutions. I believe the legal bar can play a role advocating for these and still require those responsible to pay the entire cost of damage. The issues are the speed of the action and the financial creativity to soften the impact now.
Our oil litigation website is Oilcatastrophelawyers.com. We will post news, developments and helpful information for all those involved there. My Fox News interview gives some glimpse into my thoughts regarding that litigation.
Insurance adjusters will have to be hired to help review and approve the claims that will be submitted. My current demand is that we obtain an agreement and decision from BP whether it will pay all claims as they are incurred without releases and that it will pay all such legitimate claims without limitations of liability. I asked that question last night to a BP representative at a meeting in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. The BP representative said that my question was "good" and would have to find the answer for me.
That question has certainly been asked before. Our political leaders should demand a direct response in writing and take whatever steps are needed depending on the response. The Gulf Coast is suffering financially right now and "right now" is the time for BP to step up and clearly explain how much it will agree to be held financially accountable.