BP steps up spill payments protest with ad campaign

Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:27pm EDT
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By Andrew Callus

LONDON (Reuters) - BP has stepped up its campaign for a revision of the way compensation for its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is calculated by placing advertisements in leading newspapers ahead of a July 8 appellate court hearing in the United States.

The British oil company's advertisements in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post are part of its attempt to put a lid on payments. The company has said that without relief it could be "irreparably harmed" by payouts.

BP has no control over its payments to claimants, having agreed a compensation formula and framework in a legal settlement covering certain personal and business liabilities.

While the company insists the formula is being misinterpreted, the court-appointed claims administrator disagrees and its process was upheld by the New Orleans federal court that is dealing with a host of legal issues surrounding the 2010 disaster.

BP hopes to have that decision overturned at a July 8 hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is also in New Orleans.

"Trial lawyers and some politicians are attempting to capitalize on this misinterpretation by encouraging the submission of thousands of claims for inflated losses, or losses that do not even exist," BP said in its advertisement.

"Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it's wrong for anyone to take money they don't deserve. And it's unfair to everyone in the Gulf - commercial fishermen, restaurant and hotel owners, and all the other hard-working people who've filed legitimate claims for real losses."

But Mary Alice McLarty, president of the American Association for Justice, which represents plaintiffs' lawyers, criticized BP for its "campaign to evade accountability" despite its guilty plea in a criminal case last year.   Continued...

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana, in this April 21, 2010 file handout image. REUTERS/U.S. Coast Guard/Files/Handout