Oil Company Seeks Support Against Lawsuit Gouging
Ads proclaim: "What's happening to BP is bad for American business"
HOUSTON -- BP took its oil-spill legal battle to investors and the public this week with a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers titled "Business Leaders Agree: What's Happening to BP is Bad for American Business."
In the full-page ad (see File Atteachments, below), BP reprinted comments from two major U.S. business leaders who echo the oil company's recent courtroom declarations that the company is being gouged by unscrupulous lawyers and small-business owners looking for a financial windfall in the wake of the 2010 oil-rig explosion.
According to BP, many businesses are securing settlements for exaggerated or even fictitious losses.
"Irreparable injustices are taking place," Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general, who is representing BP, told the appeals earlier this month, according to a New York Times report. He warned of a "hemorrhaging of possibly billions of dollars" because of the administrator's miscalculation of business losses following the spill.
Two recent letters to the editors of major publications echoed Olson's claims and are the subject of BP's ad campaign.
"Regardless of what you may think of oil giant BP, you'd be hard pressed to argue it hasn't bent over backward to make amends for the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010," Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote in The Weekly Standard on July 8. "Enter a parade of trial lawyers, a who's who of some of the nation's wealthiest lawyers. They smell big bucks and want a piece of the action. …
"The result is that thousands of claimants that suffered no losses are coming forward, obtaining outrageous windfalls and making a mockery of what was intended to be a fair and honest settlement process."
Similarly, Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, wrote in The Washington Times: "BP's settlement has spawned a cottage industry. Trial lawyers are actively recruiting businesses to make claims against BP … without regard to the negative consequences their actions can have on the employees of the company. …
"Our tort system is designed to ensure victims receive just and fair compensation and also to deter future wrongful acts. However, too often these days, the tort system is nothing more than a trial-lawyer bonanza, and that's not fair to individuals seeking redress and no way to encourage investment in manufacturing to create tomorrow's high-paying jobs."
Plaintiffs' lawyers have disputed the claims of money-grabbing, saying that BP is trying to back away from a settlement it negotiated, co-wrote and agreed to.
The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill took 11 lives and soiled Gulf Coast beaches.
BP has taken a charge of $42.2 billion for cleanup costs, fines and other compensation. It initially estimated that it would pay $7.8 billion to Gulf Coast businesses and residents, a total it has increased to $8.2 billion excluding future business loss claims that the company says it cannot yet estimate.