Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Georgia: Oil Spill Litigation and a Recent Consent Order

On Sunday, the U.S. District Court Eastern District issued a ruling that Louisiana fishermen were not bound by language in work agreements signed to participate in cleanup and mitigation efforts organized by BP. The consent agreement applies these same protections to any U.S. citizen, according to my friend, lawyer Rick Kuykendall, (205) 252-6127.

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“A fisherman who cannot fish because of the pollution and who entered into a contract to help clean up BP’s mess was asked to forfeit or minimize his right to make a claim for losses related to the explosion and resultant oil spill,” according to Kuykendall.

According to one of the lawyers on his team:

Attorney Jim Garner explained the offensive language in forms which BP required workers to sign that is now “null and void”:

- BP, which is mandated to take 100 percent responsibility for the oil clean-up, demanded that the volunteers IMDEMNIFY IT for any accidents that might occur from the volunteers’ efforts (Art. 13(F));

1.BP had asked that volunteers WAIVE their First Amendment constitutional free speech rights about the volunteer’s participation in the clean-up efforts of the disaster; for example, if a commercial fisherman signed the proposed papers he or she could not then speak to anyone about the disaster or clean-up efforts until BP first “approved” of what the volunteer wanted to say (Art. 22);

2. BP asked to be included on the volunteers’ insurance policies so that if there is damage to a volunteer’s vessel or other injuries, such as to a crew member, BP will be an “additional insured” and the financial responsibility for the damage will rest on the volunteer’s insurance carrier, NOT BP, and

3. BP sought 30 days of notice before any volunteer is allowed to pursue legal claims against BP, and there are no exceptions made for emergencies (Art. 13(I) [sic (G]).

Read the Consent Order here.