Last week a Federal Judge determined that BP's actions leading up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster were grossly negligent and reckless. In fact, District Court Judge Carl Barbier found conditions aboard the rig to be “totally unsafe” and “on the ragged edge,” saying that BP failed to “exercise even slight care.”
Over two years ago, and well before this ruling, BP created a set of financial rules to determine how businesses in certain Gulf Coast States would be compensated after the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Now, despite this damning new ruling, BP wants to change those rules in the middle of the game, taking billions away from deserving small business owners who were devastated by BP's spill and relied in good faith on the company's word.
Until recently, BP stood firmly behind the complex and precise standards laid out in the company's 1,200 page settlement rule book. In fact, at the court hearing to approve the document, BP’s lead counsel, Rick Godfrey, had this to say, ““[a]fter nine months and one day of robust and sometimes heated negotiations where we met 145 times face-to-face, BP believes that this settlement is unlike any other in the history of the United States, and we believe it to be good for our system of justice. BP has no intention of having justice delayed for those with legitimate claims.”
The difference today is that BP now wishes to be the sole arbiter of exactly what is “legitimate.” That is not fair. BP is going back on its word and failing to take responsibility for the deal it negotiated and agreed upon.
To that end, on March 15th, 2013 BP filed a frivolous lawsuit against the man responsible for fairly distributing billions of dollars to Gulf area business owners with well defined losses as per BP's own formulas. BP's frivolous lawsuit will do exactly what Mr. Godfrey said BP would not - delay payments to those businesses who played by BP's rules and have been deemed by the court supervised Claims Administrator to have legitimate economic losses. Simply put, BP is losing money based on the rules as it wrote them, and now the company wishes to move the goal posts.
BP, until a few months ago, residents and businesses of the Gulf Coast had begun to forgive you for soiling our shores, contaminating our fisheries and ruining our economy. In fact, based in large part on the compensation program you designed, many of us heralded your efforts and proclaimed our desire to forever purchase your products because you stepped up to the plate and took responsibility. You were committed to making the Gulf whole again.
But by halting legitimate payments we expected based on your representations, you are now pulling the rug out from underneath our feet. You would have easily recouped your investment in our region's recovery by abiding by your financial commitment to us. We would have driven miles past Chevron and ExxonMobil to find a BP station to reward you for your good corporate citizenship. But if you keep this up, no more.