BP Told to Stop Circulating Oil Spill Settlement Agreements

As the Gulf oil spill creeps toward shore, BP, British Petroleum is doing all it can to minimize harm in the water and on the shore. And we’re not talking about oil slick barriers. Alabama’s Attorney General says he has told representatives of BP they need to stop circulating agreements that require people to give up their right to sue in exchange for $5,000. AG Troy King says people should seek appropriate legal advice before they sign away their rights.

Reportedly, BP’s efforts were very strong in Bayou La Batre. By the first weekend in May, BP had signed up about 500 fishing boats in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. Fishermen were put under contract and part of the condition of being hired was that they waive their right to sue BP and agree to a confidentiality clause not to discuss it. After some public embarrassment, BP said it stripped out the waiver requirement and the ones signed would not be enforced.

Darren Beaudo, a spokesman for BP, said in an e-mail to the Press Register, “BP will not enforce any waivers that have been signed in connection with this activity.” The state’s Attorney General has his hands ties. He cannot give legal advice to private citizens, but hopes they seek legal advice by warning them they need to proceed with caution. Meanwhile, a Florida State University oceanography professor says the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon is five times more than what BP is releasing. Ian MacDonald told an environmental forum meeting in Pensacola the blowout is gushing 25,000 barrels a day, while BP estimates the rate at 5 barrels per day. MacDonald says he is frustrated by the lack of adequate data from the federal government.

Florida oil spill damage attorneys will continue to monitor the progress of the conditions surrounding this awful tragedy.