The 2010 BP oil spill was the largest oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The explosion that caused the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 and released more than 4 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. But for residents of the Gulf Coast the event is remembered by more than just a set of facts. The economic and environmental impacts are still being seen across the coast. Beaches, wildlife, and ground water were all damaged. Commercial fishermen were unable to work and tourism was all but brought to a close. Although a lot of clean -up has been done, there is still much left to do. Ultimately, BP was found to be responsible and as a result has been ordered to pay reparations.
The initial estimate that BP expected to pay in damage claims was $7.8 billion; however they are now estimating a cost of $9.6 billion. A federal judge appointed Louisiana attorney Patrick Juneau to oversee the processing and payment of claims. Unfortunately, while Juneau has been cleared of any wrongdoing, an investigation by former FBI chief Louis Freeh found that 2 of his staff members may have violated federal law by committing fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and perjury.
The report found that attorney Lionel “Tiger” Sutton charged a $40,000 transfer fee for moving a claimant to another attorney. In conjunction, office administrator Christine Reitano is believed to have worked with Sutton on the deal. Both were placed on administrative league at the start of the investigation but later resigned.
While BP is pleased that the investigation found what they believed was there all along they have filed a motion to stop payments on claims until the investigation is complete, a motion that was denied. They are not, however completely satisfied. They also believe that Juneau has over-inflated the claim amounts or issued claims to businesses or people haven’t actually suffered damage. An appeal of Juneau’s policy interpretation has been filed and the appellate court is set to begin hearing arguments on Nov. 1, 2013. The situation isn’t likely to be settled anytime soon.
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