Posts Tagged ‘BP’
November 14th, 2014 at 11:56 am
SCOTUS Should Accept Golden Opportunity to Constrain Abusive Plaintiffs’ Lawyers

The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is by now a fading memory for most Americans.  The U.S. Supreme Court, however, will soon decide whether to hear a case stemming from the spill that could, at long last, restrain abusive trial lawyers who game our legal system.

The case involves BP, which immediately accepted responsibility for the spill and asked attorney Kenneth Feinberg to handle claims on a rapid and completely independent basis. Ultimately, Feinberg ordered more than 200,000 payments totaling $6 billion over 16 months.

The problem at issue arose when opportunistic plaintiffs’ lawyers decided that they weren’t receiving their customary windfall.  Consequently, they rushed to court and demanded a class-action settlement, which a federal district court in Louisiana granted.

Then the court appointed a well-connected local Louisiana lawyer to administer claims for what are broadly categorized as “business economic losses.” For example, a restaurant owner on the coast could demonstrate damages by comparing pre-spill revenues and profits versus post-spill revenues and profits. Victims who could establish a decline in revenues and confirm a causal connection between the losses and the spill itself, were entitled to payment.

Unfortunately, the claims administrator also steered vast sums toward businesses whose losses clearly had nothing to do with the spill. BP’s lawyers cite 64 representative examples of such abuse in their writ to the Supreme Court, including:

  • A real estate rental company that leased properties to two Saturn dealerships, which both went out of business because GM stopped making Saturns in 2009, put in a claim and received $238,000.
  • A group of emergency room physicians received $2.3 million after claiming that revenues dropped sharply, but that decline resulted not from the spill, but from a one-time earnings adjustment to accounts receivable over a period of five years.

BP appealed the awards to the Fifth Circuit, but lost in a sharply-split decision. Judge Edith Clement, a highly-respected appellate judge appointed by President George W. Bush, minced no words in her dissent.  She warned that the judiciary itself was becoming a “party to the fraud” against BP

Citing Judge Clement, Cardozo School of Law professor Lester Brinkman, a premier authority in the academic study of plaintiffs’ lawyers, wrote, “Make no mistake; fraud it is.  The settlement agreement entered into by BP to provide compensation to those that suffered loss from the spill, states that in order to be eligible for compensation, claimants must affirm under penalty of perjury, that they suffered ‘damages arising from’ the Deep Water Horizon incident.  But the Louisiana legal system has obliterated these words from the agreement.”

So why should informed citizens care? After all, BP admitted to doing great damage to the Gulf of Mexico.

We should care because if the abusive and greedy plaintiffs’ lawyers triumph in this case, few restraints will remain. If ever there was an example of discarding the rule of law in favor of enriching a politically-powerful group, this case is it.

At issue in this case is a straightforward proposition. Namely, a class-action settlement is grossly inappropriate where large numbers of that supposed class have even not suffered harm. That seems elementary

Unfortunately, different federal courts of appeal have ruled inconsistently in similar cases. That inconsistency alone constitutes one reason the Supreme Court could and should accept the case. Another reason is the important and fundamental legal issue at stake: people who haven’t suffered actual harm should not receive unjustified windfall damages.

Whatever one thinks of BP, the case now before the Supreme Court is a critical one, and its legal position is the correct one. Accordingly, the Justices should take the important step of granting cert.

May 31st, 2012 at 11:36 am
Obama Still Blocks Gulf’s Oil

This study should put to rest the idea that the Obama administration actually has helped to boost domestic supplies of energy (not that anyone really believed it anyway. See here.

It continues the sorry tale I wrote about at this site a year ago, here.

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July 30th, 2010 at 11:23 am
Podcast: An Update on Gun Rights and Obama’s Cozy Relationship with BP
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Interview with CFIF’s Timothy Lee on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago, as well as the Obama Administration’s cozy relationship with BP.

Listen to the interview here.

July 15th, 2010 at 5:53 pm
Phone Book and Faculty Agree: Obama’s Drilling Moratorium a Bad Idea
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William F. Buckley, Jr. famously said that he’d rather be governed by the first 400 names in the Boston phonebook than by the Harvard faculty.

Every so often, however, the phone book and the faculty actually agree.  According to a new Bloomberg poll, a remarkable 73% of respondents oppose our supposed philosopher-king Barack Obama’s drilling moratorium.  What makes this remarkable is that approximately three-quarters of the American public, which very rarely seems to find consensus on anything these days, just doesn’t buy Obama’s constant drumbeat of scapegoating the oil industry, “deregulation” or the previous administration.  What makes this even more remarkable, however, is that Obama’s own appointed “experts” agree with everyday citizens.  As noted in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the hyper-partisan investigatory panel selected by Obama himself expresses skepticism toward his moratorium.

Add the fact that two separate courts have rejected the Obama Administration’s ill-advised moratorium, which is jeopardizing even more jobs in that hard-hit region, and we’re approaching unanimity against the self-professed “bridge-builder” Obama.

July 13th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
Obama’s Drilling Moratorium: Sending Jobs to Egypt
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In response to the uncertainty created by the Obama Administration’s foolish drilling moratorium, which has now been overturned by two separate courts, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. announced that it will shift its Ocean Endeavor operation to Egypt.  As The Wall Street Journal noted, “when it comes to a showdown between jobs and ideology, the Obama Administration never fails to choose the latter.”

The Ocean Endeavor contract was worth $100 million, and its loss will cost “a great deal” of American jobs.  Even Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana found herself forced to break with the Obama Administration, noting that the offshore drilling industry safely operates approximately 42,000 other wells and employs innumerable Gulf citizens both directly and indirectly.  Sadly, Obama once again seems to be stimulating the far-left activist community, but not the American economy or job climate.

July 6th, 2010 at 10:25 am
Headline: “Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies”
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Hypocrisy in a president is shameful enough.  But combining that hypocrisy with outright dishonesty is inexcusable.

Compare a front-page headline from today’s Wall Street Journal versus President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office regarding the Gulf oil spill.  In his June 15 speech, Obama descended into his usual habit of scapegoating the allegedly “deregulatory” Bush administration and falsely attempting to distinguish his own:

Over the last decade, [the federal Minerals Management Service] has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility — a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves…  When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency.  But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow.  And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency…  So one of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling.  But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk.”

But that’s not true.  According to a front-page report from today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies,” the Obama White House urged a federal court of appeals to reverse its environmental risk analysis and allow Gulf oil drilling to proceed:

Less than four months after President Barack Obama took office, his new administration received a forceful warning about the dangers of offshore drilling.  The alarm was rung by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which found that the government was unprepared for a major spill at sea…  Despite its pro-environment pledges, the Obama administration urged the court to revisit the decision.”

The appellate court did reverse its previous ruling, allowing more Gulf drilling to proceed.  That includes BP’s well.

Obama’s halting leadership style sows economic uncertainty at home and international menace abroad.  His increasing dishonesty, however, creates an even more disturbing spectre haunting the nation.

July 1st, 2010 at 1:19 pm
BP and the Obama Agenda
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Today’s queue includes our commentary on the disturbingly cozy marriage of convenience between BP and the Obama Administration.

BP and the Obama Agenda

By Timothy H. Lee

For years, liberals in Washington have tirelessly thwarted America from tapping its domestic sources of energy, while hypocritically lamenting our “addiction to foreign oil.” They have forsworn abundant energy supplies just off our coasts and erected boundaries against drilling and energy development right here at home. The unfortunate effect of their effort is to unnecessarily drive exploration further and further offshore, to deeper and deeper depths.

Suddenly, those same forces are forging a marriage of convenience with BP to scapegoat the entire energy industry for BP’s individualized failures. In his Oval Office speech to the nation, for instance, President Obama resorted to sloppy slurs against “oil industry lobbyists” and “an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.” …

Read the entire piece here.

June 23rd, 2010 at 10:23 am
Ramirez Cartoon – Obama: “Take the BP CEO Off the Guest List for the Next Paul McCartney Concert”
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 21st, 2010 at 7:57 pm
Interior Dept. Using Environmentalism to Hinder Border Patrol

Some articles must be read in their entirety in order to believe them, and that certainly qualifies for this gem at Fox News.  Mindboggling is the only word that seems appropriate to describe the pay-to-play scheme involving annual negotiations between the Department of Interior and the Border Patrol where the latter winds up paying $50 million just to get access to the border!

What in the name of the Sierra Club is going on?  It’s an unholy alliance between the Environmental Left and the open-borders crowd that drains the Border Patrol of access and money.  The effect is an unauthorized transfer of Congressional appropriations that has the Border Patrol paying for studies on its officers’ impact on the environment.

Republicans are calling it extortion.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said the kicker in the multimillion-dollar tradeoff is that the money doesn’t even guarantee the Border Patrol open access to the land. Agents still have to follow particular rules to drive into wilderness areas to pursue suspects or set up routine patrols.

“That conflict has got to be resolved,” he said. “If the Border Patrol was allowed to have free access to patrol the borders at will … it would have the same effect that they’re doing in other areas.”

Bishop in March called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stop “extorting” the money from Homeland Security. “Money appropriated for border security should only be spent on making our borders more secure, and not diverted to unrelated DOI spending projects,” he said in a statement at the time. According to Bishop’s office, Salazar has not responded.

Looks like British Petroleum isn’t the only “BP” with Secretary Salazar’s boot planted firmly on its neck.

June 11th, 2010 at 12:11 pm
Obama Flip-Flops Again, Will Meet With BP CEO Now
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We don’t know whether this is positive news or depressing news, but Barack Obama has flip-flopped once again.  Now, he says he will meet with British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward after all, just days after stating that he was not interested in such a meeting.

We suppose this is good news in the sense that if Obama is willing to meet murderous dictators like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “without preconditions,” then he should at least be willing to meet the CEO of the company desperately attempting to stop the worst oil spill in American history.

On the other hand, it demonstrates once again that a pledge from Obama is about as dependable as a teleprompter during a rainstorm.  His broken promises include a solemn vow not to raise taxes on anyone earning over $250,000, to comply with public campaign finance restrictions, to exclude lobbyists from his administration and to close the Guantanamo detention facility.  Many of Obama’s promises were ill-advised when offered, but how can businesses, foreign allies or anyone else gain any certainty from a man who reverses pledges he made only days earlier?

It’s a terrible prospect for the economy, which relies upon expectation stability, and international security to have such an unreliable White House occupant.

June 10th, 2010 at 3:52 pm
So Obama Will Meet with Dictators, But Not CEOs?
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“Americans don’t blame Mr. Obama for the oil spill, but they are beginning to doubt the competence of a President whose decisions suggest political panic more than careful policy.”

That was the cogent observation of The Wall Street Journal today, and it captures the essence of why Americans now rate the federal government’s response to the Gulf oil spill even worse than its 2005 response to Hurricane Katrina.  It obviously wasn’t Barack Obama that caused the oil rig collapse, but he’s ultimately responsible for the manner in which his administration has reacted.  For example, Obama’s order of a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling has exacerbated job loss in the region and further eroded our ability to access non-foreign oil sources.

And now, the same Barack Obama who breezily offered to meet such dictators as Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “without preconditions” now refuses to even meet with the CEO of the corporation desperately trying to cap the oil leak and minimize the damage that will ultimately hit its bottom line.  In a video interview for NBC’s Today show, Obama proclaimed his childish refusal to sit down with British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward:

I have not spoken to [BP CEO Tony Hayward] directly, and here’s the reason.  Because, uh, my experience is, uh, when you talk to, uh, uh, a guy like, uh, a BP CEO, he’s gonna say all the right things to me.  I’m not interested in words, I’m interested in actions.”

And precisely what do you expect from murderous dictators with whom you gladly offer to meet?  Earnest concessions?  Honest negotiation?  Substantive results?

Is it possible that Barack Obama actually holds corporations and their CEOs in higher contempt than genocidal dictators?

May 4th, 2010 at 12:03 pm
Violent Rhetoric from the White House?

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the White House will put its “boot on the throat of BP” to make certain the oil company takes all necessary measures to control the spill and minimize its effects in the Gulf.

The image evoked by Mr. Gibbs is one of the harshest I’ve seen used by the White House against a private organization. Not even Wall Street has been so rebuked. Come to think of it, this administration hasn’t used such language against a sworn enemy like Iran. Stop and think about the image Mr. Gibbs invokes. The boot belongs to the party in power, the White House, while the choking and gasping wind-pipe belongs to BP.

Of course BP is worthy of a tough reprimand and should be held responsible for its role in the Gulf disaster. It’s just unnerving when those in power use such intimidating language when talking about a civil matter.

And it’s the Tea Parties that are accused of over-the-top language?