The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, filed an amicus brief on Monday in support of BP’s latest attempt to renege on its Settlement Agreement with individuals and businesses of the Gulf Coast.
The U.S. Chamber is no friend of Gulf businesses and is not to be confused with the hundreds of legitimate local Chambers of Commerce that champion entrepreneurs. No, the U.S. Chamber is a puppet of very big business, which counts on the confusion involving its name to work against the interests of small business owners everywhere.
Is it the “U.S.” or “U.K.” Chamber of Commerce?
Members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce should ask their leadership exactly who the organization represents – one massive British oil company convicted of multiple felonies? Or the tens of thousands of businesses of the United State of America? If the former, a name change to the U.K Chamber of Commerce seems in order.
BP Works to Discourage Participation
While BP has been largely unsuccessful in its dishonest legal challenges to extract itself from its own Settlement Agreement, the company has taken to the airwaves and newspapers to express its displeasure with the American court system and the business owners of the Gulf Coast. Reportedly, BP has spent $1 billion on legal fees and $500 million on advertisements in this unprecedented attempt to purchase its own brand of justice.
Macroeconomic Damage to Gulf Businesses Immense
BP’s strategy, and now the adopted strategy of the U.S. / U.K. Chamber of Commerce, is to suggest that claimants who otherwise pass the rigorous and explicit causation requirements detailed in the 1,200 page Settlement Agreement were not necessarily harmed by the company’s disaster. But the evidence suggests otherwise. First, macroeconomic data indicates that nearly all Gulf-area industries were impacted. The trickle-down effect was substantial as is detailed in this December 2013 study by economist Dr. Timothy Ryan, Ph.D.
Second, if a business meets one of the several causation tests found in Exhibit 4B, it was by definition harmed. It may not be obvious to the untrained financial eye, but a forensic accounting bears this out.
Consider the Source
Consider the source when confronted with BP’s claims. Believing BP, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – in court and in advertisements – requires giving the pair a very large dose of the benefit of the doubt. By all accounts, BP is undeserving. The company is described by the United States Department of Justice as being a manipulative, obstructive, less than forthright entity, with a propensity for providing false and misleading information. Likewise, the U.S. / U.K. Chamber deserves no quarter.
A Friend of the Devil is no Friend of the Court
Finally, in a legal context, “amicus” means “a friend of the court.” The purpose of an amicus brief is to inform the court of the law by expounding on it in an impartial manner. Unfortunately, the U.S. / U.K. Chamber of Commerce is only a friend of BP’s, not the Court. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals should roundly reject the U.S. / U.K. Chamber’s dishonest attempt at judicial friendship.
As a plaintiff attorney, Tom Young has been at the forefront of some of the Nation's worst disasters. In 2015, he was judicially appointed to represent over 200,000 plaintiffs in an allocation proceeding involving a $1.24 billion settlement with Deepwater Horizon contractor Halliburton and rig owner Transocean. Currently, he's focused on representing numerous communities across the country that have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic and are now seeking damages from drug manufacturers and distributors.