In a recent column, Beaumont attorney Brent Coon takes on the BP class settlement.
“The Irony and the Agony of the BP Oil Spill Economic Class Settlement,” was published online Feb. 1 by Jurist.org, a web-based legal news and research service.
“Nowhere in the annals of American jurisprudence have we seen the courts and litigants make a mess of things as we have – and likely will continue to – in the infamous BP oil spill class settlement,” Coon begins the guest column.
Addressing the Economic & Property Damage class settlement specifically, Coon, who has thousands of BP clients, says the “rarefied air” of a multi-billion dollar partial class settlement has invited “immense controversy."
The settlement was originally supported by both BP and the class counsel, Coon writes, but says BP is now “crying foul.”
The company is objecting interpretive issues in analyzing claim values, which is the job of Pat Juneau, who Coon writes has “the dubious official title these days of Claims Administrator.”
Central to its arguments are complaints that claims are being interpreted in a manner too loose on accounting methodology for ascertaining losses, as well as sufficiency of proof that such loses were due to the spill, Coon writes.
“Making this all the more simultaneously entertaining and disturbing is BP's decision as a party to the settlement to not only change its mind on supporting it through the appeals, but to actually initiate a massive multi-million dollar advertising campaign maligning the very settlement its attorneys spent a year formulating,” he wrote.
“Adding flavor to the carnival atmosphere, allegations of fraud and coercion at every level of the process are now running rampant—so much so that the trial court felt it incumbent to invite Louis Freeh’s auditing and investigation company into the fray.”
Coon thinks BP's attempts to revive its brand name by taking out full page newspaper ads and other advertising.
“Does BP think that advertisements of protestation in New York and Washington will have a positive impact down the road? Maybe so. It does vaguely smell of the story line in John Grisham's novel, The Pelican Brief, also based on litigation arising out of Louisiana.”
He blames BP for the process that allowed it to "capture as many claims as possible while keeping it away from jury trials.
“So while BP has effectively shut down any payments in the class, what is happening to the thousands and thousands of claims excluded from those settlements by election or intent? Nothing.”
The column can be read here: jurist.org/sidebar/2014/02/brent-coon-bp-settlement.php