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Tom Young
Tom Young
Attorney • (813) 251-9706

BP Shareholders – Are you mad as hell at lawyers?

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As a BP shareholder, surely you’ve educated yourself on the sheer madness that is the Deepwater Horizon Settlement. You are no doubt incredulous that scammers in the Gulf and their unscrupulous attorneys have been able to gin up so many fictitious claims, costing shareholders hundreds of millions – perhaps billions of dollars.

How did BP’s well-healed, Ivy League educated attorneys get bested by a bunch of good ol’ boy, C-student, ambulance chasing lawyers from the podunk South?

BP Oil Spill Payment Statistics

The latest statistical report from BP Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau. As of June 2014, 12,447 businesses have been paid. 15,384 have been told to pound sand (click to enlarge, then add up the figures in blue). BP, you’ve won.

They didn’t. In fact, what BP management isn’t telling you is that shareholders are winning this battle – big time.

For instance, did you know that more claims are denied than approved by Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau, the devil incarnate according to BP? More people walk away with $0 than do with a check? To the tune of 15,384 denials as opposed to 12,447 checks cut?

You’re winning BP. Heck, I’d say you’ve won.

And as for “fraud,” BP can only account for a bit over $12 million out of $42 billion, or .0002 of all claims. With most if not all convictions for same stemming from BP’s own in-house claims program, the now defunct GCCF, not the current payment system.

So why does Mr. Dudley and his management team continue to fight? This was a settlement after all. It was designed to avoid protracted litigation and the costs and distractions that come with it. I mean, shouldn’t the company brain-trust be focused on Russia?

Who’s getting rich?

Lawyers are. Just not the ones you think.

BP has become one big law firm, employing hundreds of in-house and outside lawyers. Total attorneys fees have swelled beyond $1 billion according to recent reports.

So maybe those Ivy League BP boys do know what they’re doing? Heck, they get paid hourly, cha-ching, win-or-lose. Claimant attorneys only get paid if they prevail, and according the the statistics above, claimant attorneys lose more than they win.

With every frivolous appeal filed and rejected by the courts (0-7 so far on BP’s biggest complaint regarding causation), blue blood firms like Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Kirkland & Ellis, Arnold & Porter, and Liskow & Lewis send BP another invoice. Pay up.

It seems it is not the people of the Gulf who view BP as a deep pocketed cash register with bottomless financial resources, but the company’s own legal eagles.

But it gets worse for shareholders, as the claims keep rolling in.

Deadline? What deadline?

This should have all been over by now. When the Settlement Agreement was executed and Kumbayah sung over two years ago, April 22, 2014 seemed an eternity. That was the agreed upon last day anyone could submit a claim to BP for compensation. If a business owner had a gripe with BP, after April 22, 2014 he was out of luck.

Game over. Case closed. BP was to be fully released from nearly all commercial liability over six weeks ago.

But April 22, 2014 has come and gone and the Claims Administration is still open for business. In fact, according to the Settlement Agreement, the Claims Administrator will continue to accept new filings for at least another six months, and likely much longer (but see this caveat for claimants who procrastinate in Section 21.3).

So the soonest possible deadline, as of today, is December 3, 2014. Worse for BP, that date extends by each day BP keeps its losing appeals alive.

So, if BP keeps fighting, which by all accounts it will, today’s deadline is December 3, 2014. Tomorrow’s deadline is December 4. Thursday’s deadline, December 5. Friday’s, December 6, and so forth and so on.

Dozens of new claims are filed each day.

Why not stem the bleeding?

Most legal observers give BP little chance of persuading the United States Supreme Court to even take up its case, much less side with the company. So why keep fighting?

Presumably the company’s aggressive legal and public relations stunts have driven away otherwise legitimate claimants who simply don’t want to get caught up in the mess. So there is that. But at this point, six weeks after the program should have ended, and facing at least another six months of additional filings, diminishing returns are surely setting in.