Friday, March 14, 2014

150.3 - Good News: BP shot down on attempt to weasel out of paying Deepwater Horizon damages

Good News: BP shot down on attempt to weasel out of paying Deepwater Horizon damages

This doesn't start as good news, but there is some good news in it, so hang in there.

Remember the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout? It happened not quite four years ago, on April 22, 2010. Nearly 5 million barrels - over 200 million gallons - of oil spewed out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Four years later, oil from that spill is still washing up on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. The end of last month, a 1,250 pound mat of sand, shells, and oil - oil which proved to be from the spill - was found off Pensacola Beach, Florida. The mat was nine feet long and nine feet wide.

Speaking of nines, this was nearly nine months after BP had shut down its cleanup efforts in the Gulf, claiming only "minute amounts" of oil remained.

It was also well after BP tried to weasel out of paying for the damage it caused. The corporation had agreed to set up a $9.2 billion fund to compensate victims of the spill. But the settlement started to be more expensive than BP anticipated, and so, suffering what some folks sarcastically called buyer's remorse, BP went to court to change the rules so that only those who could prove they were directly affected by the spill could claim damages. Since a significant part of the losses were indirect, such as the near-demolition of the tourist trade, a lot of people would be left out.

Guess what: On March 3, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected BP's argument, saying the company is going to have to live with the terms of the agreement as it was established, in which certain businesses claiming losses were presumed to have suffered harm. The court ruled that the terms of the settlement "are not as protective of BP's present concerns as might have been achievable, but they are the protections that were accepted by the parties and approved by the district court."

So at least in this one case, a corporation has been told in no uncertain terms that it cannot just change the rules after the fact to its own selfish benefit. And that's good news.


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