BP Oil Spill Lawsuits
Written by Faith Anderson on July 14, 2011
BP’s Settlement Offers to Individuals and Businesses
Although BP claims that the company is working towards righting what severely damaged the Gulf of Mexico last year, many business owners are not convinced. According to some, the company is simply “pressing business owners to the ropes in the hope that we’ll become desperate enough to accept the company’s ‘quick claim’ $25,000 settlement offer.” For individuals, BP is offering only $5,000, both of which, if accepted, would forfeit the right of the individual or business to ever sue the company for more money. By rejecting this offer, many individuals and business owners have found themselves on the losing end of a battle with BP, dealing with constant delays and requests for more documentation, with no communications from the oil company.
For one business owner running a fishing and hunting business out of the Louisiana bayou along the Gulf, BP’s settlement offer is simply unacceptable. The oil spill last year wiped out 94% of Ryan Lambert’s business and cost him $1.2 million in business losses so far. To date, Lambert has been compensated for 10% of that amount by BP. After completely rebuilding his business following the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina six years ago, Lambert finds himself faced again with a disaster, this time of the corporate variety. According to Lambert, the Louisiana wetlands are home to birds, fish, shellfish, and a number of other types of life in the Gulf. Unnecessary disasters like the BP oil spill continue to destroy the treasured land, killing marsh grasses and other vegetation that helps hold the precious wetlands in place. Unfortunately, unless BP is held accountable for the destruction caused by the company’s oil spill last April, the situation will only worsen.
Steps BP Should be Taking to Correct the Financial and Environmental Damage
Business owner Ryan Lambert proposes a plan of action by which BP could actually make things right in the Gulf. First, the company should fully compensate, in a timely fashion, individuals and business owners affected by the oil spill before they lose their homes and businesses. Second, Congress should make sure that the fines BP pays for polluting the Gulf waters are actually put towards restoring the Gulf. According to Lambert, unless a law is passed, the billions of dollars in fines paid by BP could be set aside for future oil spills rather than being used to correct the harm done by BP. Third, lawmakers should institute a Gulf restoration plan in order to deal with the devastation of the oil spill, while also addressing the long-term life of the affected wetlands. Finally, Lambert calls for the Obama administration, Congress, and the oil and gas industries to work together to reinforce the safeguards in place that are intended to protect workers and the environment. Without proper safeguards, work isn’t done safely and workers and the environment are put at unnecessary risk.
What Does This Mean for American Consumers?
As BP defaults on Gulf oil spill lawsuits, the company continues to spend millions of dollars on public relations, in an attempt to save face and convince Americans that BP is doing everything it can to fix the damage done. Unfortunately, this fix doesn’t include offering full compensation for those individuals, families and businesses who have suffered catastrophic damage from the spill and are now merely trying to hang on. According to BP, victims of the spill should not be paid any more claims for future losses because the areas affected by the spill have recovered and the economy is improving. In fact, BP has attempted to protect the company by offering low settlements in return for victims signing away their right to sue for more. However, until BP fully compensates those whose businesses and well-being have been affected by the oil spill, the company’s debt remains unpaid.