As oil, sickness and contamination persist, Gulf residents and lawyers file thousands of lawsuits against the oil giant.“If you got caught humping another woman – [if] you’re both naked and caught in the act – you’d want BP to explain to your wife how it didn’t happen.”
This colorful analogy was proposed by Dean Blanchard, a seafood distributor on Grand Isle, Louisiana, to explain oil giant BP’s continuing machinations to evade liability in the aftermath of the April 2010 disaster.
During a recent discussion in his office, Blanchard told Al Jazeera that the fishing waters off Louisiana are only producing one per cent of the shrimp they formerly produced. “Half of the local fishermen have shut down,” he stated. “They are dying. And [as] for the fishing, every day they are hauling dead porpoises in front of my place. I have a claim filed with BP, but none of us in the seafood business are being paid.”
Fallout and responsibility
In a key investigative report released on September 14, the US government heaped most of the blame for the oil disaster on BP, which now faces a raft of criminal and civil litigation and billions of dollars in potential damages.
The report concluded that BP violated federal regulations, ignored safety concerns and crucial warnings, and made careless decisions during the cementing of the well nearly two kilometres underwater.
“That report summarised what we already knew, and it will help establish the punitive damage case against the defendant [BP],” New Orleans-based attorney Stuart Smith, representing more than 1,000 cases against BP, told Al Jazeera.
Smith has been litigating against oil companies for 25 years, and in 2001 was lead counsel in a case that resulted in a $1bn verdict against ExxonMobil.