British Petroleum was the real victim of the New Orleans oil spill, or at least that is what the company is claiming in thousands of legal letters and full page newspaper advertisements. The company, which is directly responsible for the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which is considered the largest marine oil spill and destroyed thousands of business along the coastline, is disputing claims made by those affected by the disaster in both public and private forums. Attorneys for the plaintiffs claim that the timing of the letters, which were sent to plaintiffs and warned that BP may seek to recover some of their funds from the multi-billion dollar settlement, say that the company is making an attempt to prevent people from claiming their fair share of the settlement.
The letter sent by BP warns lawyers representing many Gulf Coast businesses that the company may seek to recover some shares from the settlement if it successfully appeals a ruling made prior to when the settlement was agreed upon. BP claims that the court-supervised settlement program may have sent out excessive to payments to claimants and that the company will be attempting to retrieve those funds. “BP reserves whatever rights it may have to pursue any legal method to recover such overpayments,” reads the letter.
James Roy and Stephen Herman, two attorneys for the plaintiffs that helped broker the deal, denounced BP’s letter, saying it “misstates the law and violates BP’s obligations under the Settlement Agreement. No process exists to alter the amount of an award after it has been paid.”
BP is taking their offensive against their victims to the public as well. The Associated Press reports that BP is placing full page ads in the The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, accusing those who lost their businesses because of the company’s negligence of being liars. “Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it’s wrong for anyone to take money they don’t deserve. And it’s unfair to everyone in the Gulf- commercial fisherman, restaurant and hotel owners, and all the other hard-working people who’ve filed legitimate claims for real losses.”
In 2012, BP estimated that it would cost $7.8 billion to resolve thousands of claims filed against the company in response to the oil spill. While the company has not revealed the amount it has currently spent on the claims, it is believed to be much higher.