• BP Oil-Spill Settlement Imbroglio Enters Strip Club Phase

    While I was on holiday break, the BP oil-spill settlement scandal descended into the realm of strip club assignations. That’s what happens when you take your eye off the news for a few days. To review briefly: The April 2010 Gulf of Mexico well blowout and rig explosion killed 11 workers and created a horrific mess off the coast of Louisiana. Lawsuits and prosecutions ensued. BP began paying out billions of dollars for cleanup and damage claims. A majority of the contamination has dissipated, thankfully, and the Gulf economy has mostly recovered. BP’s tab has exceeded $25 billion and it’s climbing, probably to the vicinity of $40 billion. The company has pleaded guilty to criminal charges, settled with some parties, and is still fighting in court against others. Early last year, though, BP came to the conclusion that some plaintiffs’ lawyers and their clients were taking advantage of the situation and filing unsubstantiated claims—an allegation hotly (but not terribly convincingly) contested by the plaintiffs’ bar. As a result, the hostilities in New Orleans federal courtrooms are heating up just as one might have hoped they’d be cooling off.

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  • Editorial: Cash in the Water

    The lawyers hit a gusher in the Gulf of Mexico The sharks are circling in the Gulf of Mexico. A federal judge on Christmas Eve delivered a ruling that puts BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, at the mercy of anyone who claims he or she lost business as a result of the infamous 2010 oil spill. Even hookers are getting a piece of the action. The company once courted environmentalists with a slogan of “Beyond Petroleum,” and then one of its oil wells blew out, fouling the Gulf with an estimated 200 million gallons of crude oil. Thousands suffered actual and authentic losses and deserve to be made whole again, but the scent of cash has attracted others with claims that are beyond avarice.

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  • The Lawsuit Bayou

    Louisiana has become the tort bar's new mecca for litigation. The thing to keep in mind when the subject is tort reform is that any reform will remain a half solution; the trial lawyers will work night and day to find ways around reform. That's the lesson from the American Tort Reform Foundation's annual Judicial Hellholes report, which reveals new lawsuit abuses sprouting despite efforts across the country to reduce the damage from this politically powerful profession. California, New York and West Virginia maintain their rankings among the worst litigation climates in the country, inviting lawsuits on everything from disability access and asbestos to consumer and environmental claims. New to the list this year is Louisiana, which has seen a flood of so-called legacy lawsuits, in which trial lawyers plumb property records and then sue energy companies for past drilling, alleging environmental degradation.

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  • Judicial Hellholes’ 2013/2014 Report

    Since 2002 the American Tort Reform Association’s (ATRA) Judicial Hellholes® program has built on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s (ATRF) annual report of the same name, documenting developments in places where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants. More recently the lawsuit industry has begun aggressively lobbying for legislative and regulatory expansions of liability, as well, so Judicial Hellholes reporting has evolved to include such law- and rule-making activity, much of which can affect the fairness of a state’s lawsuit climate as readily as judicial actions. The 2013-2014 report shines its brightest spotlight on six areas of the country that have developed reputations as Judicial Hellholes: 1. California 2. Louisiana 3. New York City 4. West Virginia 5. Madison & St. Clair Counties, Illinois 6. South Florida

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  • BP Still Paying for Deepwater Horizon Blowout

    A little over three years ago – April 20, 2010, to be exact – a drilling rig named the Deepwater Horizon was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico when an explosion occurred and created one of the largest oil spills in history. The accident killed 11 people, and the drilling rig sank two days later on April 22. The well oozed crude oil and natural gas until for several months. On July 15, the well was temporarily plugged and completely plugged on September 19. The blowout of the Deepwater Horizon was a great tragedy in many ways. But what has happened to BP, the company that was the operator of the well, is a tragedy, too.

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  • Escort Agency Cashes In on Deepwater Horizon Claims

    BP has complained for months it has been forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses that filed damage claims after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster – even though they weren’t really affected. Now the court-appointed lawyer supervising those payments has confirmed he approved a $173,000 payout to an “adult escort service,” that BP says was filed on with unsigned and undated tax returns. A new BP ad appeared in several national newspapers on Thursday proclaiming: “The IRS wouldn’t accept this claim. But the Gulf Settlement Program did.”

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  • EPA’s Heavy-Handed Treatment of BP Goes Too Far

    There’s no doubt that BP should be held responsible for the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Yet despite BP pleading guilty and receiving a $4.5 billion fine and despite reorganizing its business structure and leadership, in November 2012, EPA declared that because of a Clean Water Act violation atone facility—the Deepwater Horizon oil platform—every branch of the company was barred from getting new federal government contracts and prevented from working with any company doing federal government work, even if it was in an unrelated industry. Divisions with little connection to the oil spill, like the ones that produce jet and marine fuels, motor oil, and asphalt fall under EPA’s heavy-handed decision. What motor oil and asphalt have to do with the Deepwater Horizon is beyond me.

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  • U.S. Should Heed Warnings on BP

    UK concerns over American ban on oil major are justified Three and a half years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the legal and financial implications continue to haunt BP. The company has set aside $42.5bn for costs and claims relating to the spill. But while BP believes it has already paid a stiff price, the challenges do not stop. In the aftermath of the 2010 disaster, President Barack Obama took a tough stance towards the company, saying he would “make BP pay”. His rhetoric clearly left a mark. Last year, the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency banned BP from bidding for new government contracts, citing its “lack of business integrity”. Among other things, the move stops BP from gaining new oil and gas leases in the US and from supplying fuel to the Pentagon.

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  • BP Wins US Court Reprieve in Gulf of Mexico Spill Payouts

    BP won a big victory in its battle to limit the cost of compensation for its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after an appeals court called for an injunction to suspend payments to businesses that had not suffered losses as a result of the disaster. BP has argued that the compensation settlement over the spill that it agreed last year is being misinterpreted to allow businesses that have not suffered any harm to claim for apparent losses.

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  • BP Wins Appeals Court Order Stopping Some Spill Payments

    BP Plc won an appeals court order stopping some payments under a $9.2 billion settlement tied to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP last month asked for an injunction halting payments to claimants whose injuries weren’t traceable to the spill, contending the New Orleans federal judge overseeing the case ignored the appellate court’s Oct. 2 mandate to review claims.

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