Thanks to a call from a reporter this afternoon, I was made aware of an article critical of my writings that appeared earlier this week on thestateofthegulf.com, one of BP’s propaganda vehicles. The piece, titled “Consider Your Source,” does a masterful job of taking my words out of context and ignoring the obvious. While I would have preferred to address the author personally, alas, unlike my articles, BP’s cowardly attacks come with no byline.
So I then looked to comment at the bottom of BP’s story, but surprise, the company does not allow comments. Wonder why? My articles always welcome comments, pro and con, so feel free to chime in below. Since I cannot address the accusations directly on BP’s site, I will do so here.
Considering the Source
Judging from the title of BP’s article, “Consider the Source,” the company’s anonymous author insinuates that my readers mistake The Legal Examiner for the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, or some other bastion of journalistic excellence. While flattering, I find it hard to believe that my personal and admitted biases are not more than evident for all to see. After all, associated with my byline is a link to several of my online bios, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and a lawyer-centric site called Avvo, where any nincompoop can see that I am not a fan of BP’s.
So if there is indeed a “source to consider,” I posit it is those behind the operation of thestateofthegulf.com, as my identity is well known.
BP’s mystery author claims to have found “a gem” of information in the FAQ section of my law firm web site, tlylaw.com, that allegedly encourages those not harmed by the company’s spill to apply for compensation. Poppycock. Here is how my site reads, verbatim:
“We also run into those who believe they do not deserve compensation as they cannot prove a direct correlation between the oil spill and their financial circumstances. The parties to this agreement were very intentional in designing the compensation criteria in a way that does not require a conventional causation analysis, as it would be nearly impossible to isolate the exact impact of the oil spill on Gulf area businesses. Rather, certain formulas are applied to determine if you qualify for payment. If your revenue trend corresponds with the parameters dictated by these formulas, then all losses are presumed to have been caused by the oil spill.”
The application of the formulas and standards described above are detailed in the 1,200 page contractual Settlement Agreement and have been confirmed time and time again by BP representatives. BP’s ghostwriter bemoans “Well, that’s wrong. Paying claims to people who didn’t suffer losses traceable to the accident is contrary to the express terms of the settlement agreement.”
I agree that those not affected by BP’s spill should not be compensated. That’s common sense. In fact, my law firm has turned away hundreds of business owners who could not demonstrate they were harmed by the spill as prescribed by the Settlement Agreement. Nowhere do I say payments should be made to those who did not suffer a loss associated with BP’s oil spill. I simply point out that the Settlement Agreement authored and signed by BP substitutes a formulaic approach to causation for the conventional one.
While BP no doubt wishes claimants were required to “prove” their losses to the satisfaction of a jury (or to BP itself), such is not the nature of a settlement. As BP’s lead attorney Richard Godfrey said when seeking Court approval of the Agreement:
” … the settlement that has been reached to resolve this litigation is a compromise, a yielding of the highest hopes in exchange for certainty and resolution.”
The Real State of the Gulf
BP implies that I am hiding something from my readers. If anyone is hiding it is BP. And not just about its misrepresentations regarding the Settlement Agreement.
One would think that a web site called thestateofthegulf.com would make some effort to accurately report on the real time environmental condition of same. Instead we get self serving comments such as “the Gulf is undergoing a strong recovery.” Au contraire.
Since the end of BP’s official cleanup efforts in June 2013, the government (not BP) has documented and removed more than 26,200 tar balls and over 400 pounds of Deepwater Horizon oil from Florida’s beaches alone (not including Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas). And this is just a fraction of what is out there, as on an average day, a Florida Department of Environmental Protection survey team covers no more than 1,000 yards of beach, less than 1% of Florida’s shoreline that was impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
From the following photos, taken within the past two weeks and as recently as today, it appears BP has left town well before the job was done. Similar photographs are taken every single day along Florida’s beaches.
So much for the “strong recovery” and the company’s “Commitment to the Gulf,” nearly four years after the disaster.
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.