BP’s misinformation campaign has taken “twisting the facts to suit one’s needs” to a whole new level. The corporate giant is now cherry-picking claims that were paid per the very formulas BP stated should govern the Settlement Program, and claiming now that such payments were inappropriate and that such claimants were undeserving of the monies BP’s own previously agreed upon formulas awarded them. These claims, like all others, were paid by the Program per the rules that BP itself advocated for. Now, only after the payments have been made based upon the proper submittal of the information needed to meet and satisfy the criteria laid out in the exhaustive 1,000+ page Settlement Agreement, BP screams foul. These tactics have now lead to yet another court-ordered stay of payments, resulting in tens of thousands of businesses being denied timely relief from the harms that the BP spill caused their businesses, and leaving such business owners waiting and wondering when they will ever be repaid for their damages.
BP’s recent assertions are in stark contrast to its statement just one year ago when it championed the Settlement Program as its way of making things right after its criminal and grossly negligent behavior led to the disaster. While it may not like that escort services are legitimate businesses, or successful franchises like Emeril’s suffered a true loss, the Program is BP’s golden ticket out of the mess it caused.
BP is decrying a minuscule amount of claims to try to shape public opinion in its favor, while hoping to chill filings by businesses it has harmed. When the dust settles, the hands-down winner here is BP, but one wouldn’t know it by reading the ‘woe is me’ stories in the pricey Wall Street Journal and other ads it is running. Critiques of singular settlement payments can be made in any settlement of this scale, but the fact remains that this Program was fiercely negotiated and is as solid as they come.
The massive PR campaign shaming those who legitimately qualify for economic relief is unfair and unwarranted. Rather than relying solely on the Court system to address its concerns as it should, BP has chosen to spend millions running ads to create buzz around their carefully crafted legal campaign in the hopes of lending it credibility. While it appears Judge Carl Barbier has yet to be swayed by BP’s baseless legal actions underlying the recent media blitz, he is tiring of it. “Such actions are deeply disappointing, especially considering that the court has previously appreciated and complimented the excellent cooperation and professionalism exhibited by all counsel in this extremely complex and difficult litigation,” he said recently.
What BP seems to continually ignore, is that the Program is operating exactly as it was intended to. The Program Administrator is following all of the guidelines and standards that BP themselves agreed too. There are no ambiguities, only buyers remorse. BP is also certainly not using its high priced ads to explain how the Settlement Program will serve to bar any future claims against the oil giant by businesses after the Program concludes next year, or how it had a chance to challenge the very payments it now claims are inappropriate before they were ever made. The determination of what is correctly paid is that of the Program under the watchful eye of a Federal Court, but, BP would rather cry foul after the fact than acknowledge that it bargained for the very system it now is trying to get businesses not to participate in.
While BP continues to spend their money and their energy playing the victim, business owners in Gulf coast counties continue to file their claims with hopes of recovering the losses they endured as the oil gushed into the Gulf, tourism halted, and people stopped spending. The trickle down economic losses affected each and every Gulf coast community, and BP did the right thing by agreeing to the terms of the Program. Now business owners would like to see them stand by their word and fulfill their promise of helping them recover.