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Tom Young
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BP Accused of Contempt of Court

17 comments

Late Friday, attorneys representing a law firm implicated in alleged wrongdoing hit back against BP, asking the Federal judge overseeing the historic litigation to hold the company in Contempt of Court. Representatives of The Andry Law Firm assailed BP for violating a confidentiality order and otherwise intimidating legitimate claimants seeking compensation under the company’s Deepwater Horizon Settlement Agreement.

In the filing, Andry Law Firm attorneys imply that BP’s subversive behavior should be of no surprise given that the company has, in this case alone, plead guilty to eleven felony counts of manslaughter, one felony count of lying to the Federal government, criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, criminal violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one count of lying to its shareholders and the SEC.

The twenty-three page memorandum supporting the Andry Firm’s request that Judge Barbier hold BP in Contempt goes into great detail about the company’s alleged misconduct.

The filing states, in relevant parts, the following:

“BP continues its media campaign to intimidate the courts and claimants in order to renege on the Settlement Agreement it confected and previously defended. … BP has gone to great lengths to attempt to extra-judicially intimidate claimants and the courts, including regarding the claim of The Andry Law Firm. In its latest media attack, BP not only perpetrates falsehoods, it also violates an Order of this Honorable Court by advertising confidential claims information. This Court should not countenance the flaunting of its orders by the BP attack machine, but should protect the integrity of the judicial system and the claimants injured by BP from the abuses of BP.

“BP’s misconduct, and the catastrophic effects of its misconduct, did not end with the spill, however. Throughout this litigation, BP has consistently and systematically attacked others as it suits BP’s interests, including this Honorable Court, Special Master Patrick Juneau, Emeril Lagasse, and the Andry Law Firm, as well as others. BP agreed to a settlement; agreed to a claims administrator; agreed to maintain the confidentiality of claims information it received from the claims administrator; agreed to pay claims that met the terms of a settlement agreement it helped confect; and then BP employed any and every method at its disposal to renege on its agreement. Further, BP has pursued its agenda with callous disregard for the truth and for the damages it has caused to victims along the way.” (supplemental URL’s added)

It is common knowledge that BP has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on misleading, self-serving advertising and public relations campaigns, including frequent full page advertisements in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, as well as near constant television advertising along the Gulf coast. The advertisements often portray BP as the victim, demonizing the people and businesses of the region for participating in the settlement claims program the company itself authored and enthusiastically endorsed.

While it is unclear whether Judge Barbier will act on the Andry Law Firm’s Contempt motion, one would be hard pressed to defend BP’s actions when considering the full record of this case.

17 Comments

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  1. Tim says:
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    I am the owner of a small furniture store in the Houma area that was crushed by the BP oil spill. Before the spill I had a business that was doing anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 a month in sales. After the spill I was lucky to do $10,000 to $15,000 per month in sales.
    We all know the Houma economy is driven by the oil business and with the spill and the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf afterwards the people of Houma did what they have always done when the oil business is bad, they tightened their belts buying only the necessities such as food, clothing etc.
    Necessities do not include furniture! With bills to pay, what is a small business owner to do? I have had sales, lots of sales, usually at the end of the month to be sure I had the money to pay the bills and make payroll. This has cut deeply into my profits and depleted my inventory. As a small business I did not have a war chest full of money like BP to keep me viable while I waited to be made whole again. I was hoping that the payment from BP would come as they said it would and I would be back on track. Unfortunately this still has not happened and now almost 4 years later I am close to going out of business. With a depleted inventory, people that shop my store say that we just don’t have the variety we used to have. That’s because I didn’t and don’t have the monies to purchase the inventory needed to keep the store going after having all the sales. My question is, I am waiting on the settlement amount BP should have awarded me almost 4 years ago. what about what I have lost in those years waiting on that settlement? I don’t see how they are going to figure that amount out. Should I opt out of the settlement and find an Attorney? Not really sure what to do.

  2. Eyeswideopen says:
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    EricM, you are correct the lead objector pointed this out at the Fairness Hearing. An Individual can by using footnote 4 page 2 but a business is stuck using the physical location.
    One thing you can do is submit invoice showing your connection to the Tourism trade this will move you into a better RTP.

    http://www.deepwaterhorizonsettlements.com/Documents/Economic%20SA/Ex8A_Framework_for_Individual_Economic_Loss_Claims.pdf

    4 For purposes of this Framework for Individual Economic Loss Claims, the presumption shall be that the location of economic loss for the Claiming Job is the location of the claimant’s employer within the Class Definition geographic area, not the claimant’s residence. Claimants may establish an alternative location of economic loss for the Claiming Job other than their employer’s location by providing evidence that their primary employment activities and responsibilities occur in a location different from their employer’s business address, and that the claimed DWH Spill-related economic loss occurred at such location. For example, the claimant works for a housekeeping company located in Zone C that services households in Zones A, B and C, including vacation condominiums located in Zone A, and the claimant establishes that she works primarily in Zone A.

  3. Eric M says:
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    It is a real shame that the people of the Gulf that are truly being screwed by the settlement agreement can not afford the plethora of attorneys and advertising campaigns like BP Can. I’m talking about the businesses who conducted all of their business in zone A, but get treated as a zone C or D business because of the physical location of their warehouse. The people who supported the tourism industry, but can’t get counted as tourism related because they were “once removed”. If you truly know the settlement agreement and interpretations, you will know what I am referring to. My eyes are wide-open and I will NEVER buy another gallon of fuel from BP ever again.

  4. Eyeswideopen says:
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    For all the viewers that want to play judge & jury please read the Confidentiality Order sec;13

    http://www.deepwaterhorizoneconomicsettlement.com/docs/Confidentiality%20Order%20-%20Claims%20Information%20Doc%206822%206-29-2012.pdf

    1) Then ask yourself is BP violating it.

    2) Why is BP not claiming that funds are going to non class-members.

    My challenge can anyone locate one, just one payment made by Patrick Juneau to a non-class member. Until then let him do his job!

  5. Tom Young says:
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    If you want to inform yourselves, read Rick’s just-released book, The BP Corollary. While it is a work of fiction, it is based in large part on Rick’s personal experiences as a BP employee during a time of significant cost-cutting and staff reductions which lead to, one way or the other, Texas City and Deepwater Horizon.

    Dennis – I do indeed trust Claims Administrator Juneau. He is by profession a corporate DEFENSE attorney, not a breed usually associated with ambulance chasing schemes. He was CHOSEN BY BP to administer the program. BP AGREED on the record with every policy he put forth save for the one regarding matching of expenses to revenues which is currently being reworked by court order.

    While Mr. Juneau has done an admirable job in the face of BP’s shameful personal attacks, plug anyone you choose into the role of Claims Administrator and they would be hard pressed to administer the program any differently. The simple fact is that the Settlement Agreement says what the Settlement Agreement says. It is impossible for a neutral, unbiased third party to interpret it any differently. The language is clear. It is unambiguous. So replace Mr. Juneau if you please, the result will be no different.

    To reiterate Mr. Arnsby’s comment, if BP has a gripe, it is with the company’s lawyers. You cannot blame the people of the Gulf for simply playing by the rules as BP wrote them.

  6. Rick Lacey says:
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    BP made the settlement agreement as part of its cover-up strategy. This may be the first time in history when a company agreed to compensate people while it continued to perpetrate an even larger crime on the same people. Now that it appears BP has got away with the larger crime and cover-up and has restored its reputation with a campaign built on a fiction, it no longer needs the cover.

    As a former BP employee, I know every action by BP has the same goal – maximize profits for BP. Add in the fact that the company has no conscience and all BP actions become predictable.

  7. Dennis Bradley says:
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    Hi Guys

    I believe we all agree that anyone that has suffered losses relating to this dissaster should receive compensation.

    When BP agreed to setting up the fund I believe that was their intention.

    It is to be expected that some people and businesses would put in claims where no losses we incurred, the system set up should be robust enough to weed these claims out.

    In addition to these small non legitimate claims BP has been faced with huge legal firms claiming to represent huge parts of the industry claiming billions of dollars which now turns out to be questionable and subject to law suits by the people it was supposed to represent.

    If the lack of control in this system allows claims of that magnitude to be paid how can you expect BP to trust the administrators.

    As already stated its a great shame that legitimate claimants have had to suffer because of greed.

    And finally Tom in answer to your question on how you assess a legitimate claim. You trust the administrators, in this case unfortunately they have proved they cannot be trusted.

  8. Stephen says:
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    First of all Mr French, I resent your ill thought our not to bright assumption that, “Stephen” is just another BP hired gun/troll. Please be aware that like British Petroleum, I have too have standards.

    I think most free thinkers will agree that British Petroleum has to pay up and compensate people and places for its many errors, and in the early stages with some political pressure it seemed to be going well. In fact I don’t believe that any other company has ever stepped up to the plate quite like British Petroleum did.

    Much the same happens when lawyers get involved with a perfectly amicable divorce settlement. Within a few short exchanges the mutual animosity starts. After which there are no more winners, only rich lawyers.

    I believe the unethical selfish actions of a few US Lawyers have set a line in the sand that few, including BP will be able or willing to cross again.

  9. Don French says:
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    Spot on Tom Young / Dave Arnsby. I`m sure you both realize that “Stephen” is just another BP hired gun/troll to perpetuate it`s criminal behavior. Interesting that Stephen provides no last name.

  10. Eyeswideopen says:
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    Stephen, how can you be proud of BP, would love to see your list.
    They drafted and agreed to the maps that included all of the residents and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of TX & Florida then gave us a deadline to evaluate the agreed terms or OPT-OUT.

    Please answer this one question:
    If an individual or company that’s a class member of a settlement files a claim.

    How can you considered this fraudulent claim ?

    The claim stats clearly show that claims have been filed by non-class member to date 3,682.
    The good news is they can proceed directly to litigation.
    http://www.deepwaterhorizoneconomicsettlement.com/docs/statistics.pdf

  11. Dave Arnsby says:
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    Stephen, you are placing every claimant in the same lobster pot. That does not make every individual or business claimant an ambulance chaser.
    There are literally tens of thousands of perfectly legitimate fully documented claims that BP are sitting on, and using every trick in their book to avoid paying. This is not about BP having legal counsel to see that the “Agreement they co-authored, signed and pleaded with the judge to accept”, is honorably followed, it is about hiring an ” Army of Litigant Minded Lawyers” to get BP off the financial hook.
    As Tom Young pointed out, BP has a very checkered past. They were already on probation for felonies when this disaster struck. You need to stop feeling sorry for BP and stop buying into their media propaganda march, trying to get sympathy from the American people.
    I would be inclined to agree with you if BP had, or will pay the victims immediately, instead of treating them like an inconvenience that only deserves a ” Go Away Offer of 10 cents on the dollar”. I am not kidding that is what they are doing. The effect on tourism loss was huge, and many people were wiped out financially, and could not recover.
    If BP has a gripe, it is with their own Lawyers for agreeing to the precise unambiguous terms of the DWH settlement. They are taking out vengeance on the wrong people….

  12. Brian Johnson says:
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    Im one of the legitimate claims I wish BP would come by my company in Bayou La Batre Ala were a small shipyard that builds and repairs steel boats fishing and osv. and lets talk I believe in BP wanting to pay claims like me but some greedy people hurts everybody.

  13. Tom Young says:
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    BP’s past criminal behavior has everything to do with the company’s credibility. If you buy a Global 50 company’s paid for, self-serving advertising as the gospel truth, I have a bridge to sell you.

  14. Robert Thompson says:
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    BP’s media campaign is intended to publicize and limit bogus claims. The fact BP plead guilty has no bearing on whether BP should be required to pay bogus claims.

  15. Tom Young says:
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    Again Dennis, how do you propose those with “real legitimate losses” be identified aside from Exhibit 4B?

  16. Dennis Bradley says:
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    Well done Stephen.

    I feel for the individuals and companies that have suffered real legitimate losses and have been caught up with vulture frenzy of non substainsiated claims and greedy lawyers. This part of the US legal system needs a complete overhall.

    This really paints a great picture of the US legal system.

  17. Stephen says:
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    BP, or British Petroleum I’m proud to say, has conducted itself admirably in the face of the questionable ambulance chasing US lawyers.

    My guess is, Barbiers actions over this will have implications for all companies in the future seeking to trade within the US and that you will never again see the sort of integrity as shown by this British Company.

    Barbier and co should enjoy the windfall while it lasts, as years of delay and questionable legal tactics lay ahead for the victims of the next big disaster.

    This is a quite interesting analogy
    http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/simon-read-if-a-cash-machine-pays-out-too-much-money-are-you-just-a-common-criminal-if-you-take-it-9068454.html

    I guess for Lawyers it’s fair game to take advantage of BPs naive notion that it was fairness that the ambulance chasers were after.
    But Just for the record, much more damaging to the US, is the legacy left behind those companies that will follow.

    This case has promoted the well founded idea that the US legal system and its administrators are greedy and cannot be trusted to act fairly.

    It’s quite strange that the US legal system is maintaining is that British petroleum should pay even the known fraudulent claims against it. We are all sure to remember this when we next make an insurance claim.

    BP and all that follow will also remember these actions and act accordingly the next time.

    You will find that no one will ever trust or treat the US fairly again.