The almost 4-year long court battle surrounding the BP Oil Spill seems to have taken a turn for the worst for BP. Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana determined the London-based company’s gross negligence and willful misconduct led to millions of gallons of oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This means BP could face “enhanced civil penalties” under the Clean Water Act – which nearly quadruples if a discharge of oil results from gross negligence or willful misconduct.
After much delay and anticipation, Kenneth Feinberg has issued the Final Protocol for interim and final claims to the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Fund. The entire Protocol is below, and an analysis will follow in a future post.
When Kenneth Feinberg set up the protocol for distributing the funds to oil spill victims, he wrongly included geographic proximity as a consideration. This consideration directly conflicted with the Oil Protection Act, and many claims submitted by Florida businesses impacted by the oil spill were wrongfully denied. Thanks to Alex Sink, Charlie Crist, and Bill McCollum, geographic proximity is no longer a determining factor.
The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued a Transfer Order yesterday in which it consolidated economic, environmental and personal injury cases arising out of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
The best way to ignore or cover up improper and incompetent claims practice activity would be to ask only the guilty party, right? That is exactly what Louisiana Insurance Commissioner James Donelon and Risk & Insurance appear to have done. It seems that Donelon is not only in bed with the insurance industry, but also with the BP oil spill claims adjusters. Everybody in the business knows that most BP oil spill adjusters need a great deal of accounting help, which they are not getting.
A paper, "Understanding Valuation Issues of Gulf Oil Spill Claims," will be delivered by me in Atlanta on Thursday. For those interested in the business interruption and lost income coverage disputes that Michelle Claverol writes about on this blog every Sunday morning, you’ll love the paper. For those of you that simply want to know how to properly present the vast majority of all claims so they will get paid quickly by BP, you will enjoy the PowerPoint presentation I will cover in 12 minutes. I should probably advertise this speech as "how any attorney can make a lot of money by following these simple directions" and fill the room with my colleagues.
The oil spill attorneys advertising for a mass of clients and recent advertisements in Texas regarding Hurricane Ike claims, seem to indicate that all my colleagues always win, and win big. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that if you are going to trial or push for what should fully be paid, at least one party to the litigation will lose and, sometimes, lose after a lot of money is offered to settle. Everybody loves to talk about their wins. Losses happen, and I am reminded of that bitterness and horrible feeling of injustice every now and then.
Could there be a worse time to have a hurricane or tropical storm than the summer and fall of 2010? Given the extraordinary warmth of water this early in the hurricane season and the ongoing BP oil spill catastrophe, policyholders and public officials need to start taking immediate steps to prepare for two catastrophes which are greater than their sum. Jeff Masters, of WunderBlog, is discussing the possibility that a tropical depression is currently forming in the Atlantic. Those in the Gulf Coast have one eye out for the increasing probability of a hurricane while also watching for the spread of oil.
The proper determination of more significant oil spill commercial lost profit and earning capacity claims must be approached very similarly to business interruption catastrophe claims. The best approach for larger or more complex claims is through a team of specialists. A business client can only be properly represented and fully indemnified through a collegial debate and analysis developing the proper assessment of the business, the circumstances resulting from the catastrophe, the amount of the loss, and legal considerations of what the law will allow and require as proof, if challenged.