Feature

Fleecing BP on the bayou

Since 2012, the British oil giant has been tied up in litigation over the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Joe NoceraThe New York Times

BP is getting shaken down, said Joe Nocera. Since 2012, the British oil giant has been tied up in litigation over the Gulf Coast oil spill, as plaintiffs from around the region have lined up to demand compensation, including many that suffered no losses from the disaster. “I realize that many people don’t much care that a multinational corporation responsible for a huge oil spill is being fleeced in Louisiana. But they should.” Generally speaking, BP “has taken its medicine willingly,” waiving the $75 million liability cap and spending more than $25 billion cleaning up the Gulf and settling claims. “Yet its efforts to do right by the Gulf region have only emboldened those who view it as a cash machine.” Louisiana’s rapacious trial lawyers have plucked this golden goose too gleefully. Imagine what message that sends to the next big company that has a major industrial accident. Fearing another feeding frenzy by greedy plaintiffs and their lawyers, corporate executives might second-guess the “do the right thing” approach. Instead of taking their lumps like BP has done, they could opt for a “litigation-to-the-death strategy.” The real victims next time will have Louisiana’s lawyers to thank when they end up with little or nothing.

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