Isn't this what lawsuits are for?
How many victims are there?
According to court documents, BP estimates that 200,000 people across the coast are subject to develop latent injuries, such as cancer as in Frank's case, years later after exposure, the part 2 to BP.
- They estimate about 90,000 clean up workers,
- and the rest live in their "Zone A and Zone B" maps. These maps consider people that were there between April 20, 2010 and September 30, 2010. Zone A areas are typically beach areas from which the zone extends half a mile. Zone B areas are typically bayous or marshland from which the zone extends an additional mile. Of course, many argue that residents that this does not include populated areas who live near them breathing in the same air.
- What it also does not consider are the people that came in contact with the workers. If the worker did not properly wash himself down and tend to his own clothes and other gear that came into contact with the chemicals, then whoever else touched it is now exposed. So the estimate of latent injuries could be much greater than 200,000.
Why can't victims take care of themselves?
During 4 years after the spill, approximately 37,000 health claims were brought against BP. Judge Barbier settled the case limiting the acute injury claims to those diagnosed within the first 2 years of the disaster reclassifying 80% of the claims as the latent injury claims that BP described as injuries, such as cancer, that take years to develop. Of the 20% (7000) of the claims that qualified for acute injuries, only 40 claim were compensated for serious injuries, and the rest averaged about $1300. Many didn't accept the settlement and opted out of it and have been waiting for justice now for 9 years while getting sicker or dying. So are the new plaintiffs that have developed illnesses since the settlement as BP predicted. Now, with no money to help compensate their cost of living due to their loss of work, illnesses, disabilities, and overall inability to support their families, they have to rely on social services, family, and friends or become homeless or die.
Where are all the victims?
Over the years, many victims became advocates, such as Jonathan Henderson, Kindra Arnesen, Drew Landry, and Greg and Jamie Brown. They lobbied the local, state, and federal governments to do something to help those who can't or won't speak for themselves. Despite their success in getting the government to spotlight their grievances along with the media, the government never did anything meaningful to provide help. As I was turning into an advocate myself, I approached Herman & Herman where my husband Frank was a client to see if they would represent us in the back-end litigation for latent injuries against BP, and the partner there told me they decided not to proceed with those cases because the firm had "BP fatigue". He said that was the case with the entire legal industry and if I could find a lawyer interested, it would be too costly to proceed because he would have to hire expert witnesses. These were the same attorneys that led the plaintiff steering committee in the BP settlement that made more than $700 million; the Claims Administrator made $155 million, while victims as a group received about $60 million.
But they are right about BP Fatigue and its making disappearing victims. Experts state that it takes about 8-12 years or longer for these latent injuries to develop. Well later is now. What is the federal government waiting for?
Would you board a plane if an unacceptable number crashed? Safety is not proprietary and the primary motivation for improving safety in each instance is that neither the public (as consumers and as voters) nor the government would allow such enterprises to operate if they suffered many accidents. Even inherently risky businesses can be made much safer, given the right motivations and systems-safety management practices.
The market has a financial mechanism for encouraging risk-managing behaviors: the cost of insurance and the liability of lawsuit settlements. Without it, the cost that rightfully belongs to the business gets subsidized by the victims through their costs of resources, opportunities, health, and life. This should be a pay-me-now or pay-me-later situation, but either way the burden belongs to the business. It is critical that compensation to victims be paid in full, and that the process for receiving compensation is swift and efficient and should be considered the cost of doing business.
Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is a revenue generator enjoyed by both industry and government so the Gulf of Mexico has enjoyed regulatory exemption to not stifle production. In short, the safety risks dramatically increased with the shift to the Gulf ’s deep waters, but Presidents, members of Congress, and agency leadership had become preoccupied for decades with the enormous revenues generated by such drilling rather than focused on ensuring its safety. With the benefit of hindsight, the only question had become not whether an accident would happen, but when.
Victims don't want to depend on social services. They want to take care of themselves and keep their dignity. So we ask you, the public, to continue to support those who are victims and help them get their day in court, and that we find opportunities to remind our politicians that their purpose is to support these citizens, not to just take donations from these very same companies. Please sign the petition to request a judicial hearing into the delay and denial of justice.