In what appears to be an effort to intimidate oil-spill victims, BP is sending out hundreds of letters, warning settlement recipients they may have to return part of the money. BP is currently appealing the settlement process, alleging administration errors that resulted in overpayments and “fictitious awards.”
According the Houston Chronicle, “One of the letters says if the appeals court reverses a claimant’s award, BP reserves its right to recover money the client received as well as the cut that went to the claimant’s lawyers.” A hearing for the case is scheduled for July 8 in the Fifth Circuit court of appeals in New Orleans.
The oil company agreed to a settlement last year for its part in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that killed 11 people and released 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days. Recipients include local businesses and individuals that sustained economic losses, ranging from property damage to medical bills.
The letters are just part of the BP’s full-out media blitz. The London-based company also took out full page ads in main U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal accusing “trial lawyers and some politicians” of encouraging businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or non-existent losses. Lawyers for the plaintiffs contend that “it’s “BP’s problem” if the corporation underestimated the total amount of the settlement. Payments were clearly spelled out in the agreement and that BP “shouldn’t be allowed to push the rewind button now.”
Stand up to bullies
It is important to know that businesses will use every measure available to them in order to protect their bottom line. BP’s carefully worded letter announces that it “reserves any rights it may have to recover funds…” However, it does not say that BP actually has any rights to recover settlements it already paid.
Intimidation tactics are just one of the ways a corporation may try to discourage injured parties from pursuing legal action. If you have been injured and a corporation or insurance company is denying your claims, call 800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online for a free consultation.
Source: “BP warns some oil spill claimants” By Harry R. Weber, Houston Chronicle, June 27, 2013.