Sunday, August 29, 2010

BP $20B Fund Denies Deepwater Horizon Dead and Injured Compensation

August 20th, 2010 | Author: Maritime Law Staff

HOUSTON, TX — Dead and injured victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred April 20, 2010, have been denied the right to collect monies from the BP $20 billion dollar compensation fund.

While the fund protocol says that all workers injured or killed as a result of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon or the spill are eligible to file claims, a letter sent by BP’s lawyers toHouston maritime lawyer, Steve Gordon, representing several of the victims of theDeepwater Horizon, states otherwise.

An excerpt from the BP letter states:

“To be clear, it is BP’s position, consistent with this indemnification, that any settlement between Transocean and any of its injured or deceased employees must include a full release of all BP entities from any and all claims or liability in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident,” said the letter, from John T. Hickey, a lawyer for BP. “This full release of all BP entities would indeed bar any subsequent claims against the fund being established by BP and the claims facility that will be administered by Mr. Feinberg.”

The letter was handed over to the House Judiciary Committee, which is investigating liability issues and the claims process.

The maritime law firm of Gordon, Elias & Seely, L.L.P., located in Houston, Texas, represents the family of Karl D. Kleppinger, Jr. one of the eleven workers killed on theDeepwater Horizon and 8 other injured crew members who survived (all considered Jones Act seamen under maritime law).

In an excerpt from an email dated August 2, 2010 to Ken Feinberg, administrator of the BP $20B fund, Gordon asks that his clients be allowed to recover monies from the $20B compensation Fund established by BP.

We are writing you to determine if theses claimants will be considered by you to recover monies under the BP Fund that you are administering. We sought determination from BP and they said our clients would not be considered. I attach the letter from Mr. John Hickey for your review.

BP’s position is, as you can see, that since Transocean’s insurer is obligated to indemnify BP for claims from Transocean’s employees, then BP should not further compensate them as that would be a, in their opinion, “double recovery”. Personally, I believe the evidence thus far amassed at the United States Coast Guard hearings shows that the actions, or inactions, of Transocean and BP certainly contributed to this tragedy and BP should pay these families and injured men and women directly.

Since Mr. Hickey is not the final decision maker on this issue and, from all I can read and digest, Mr. Feinberg is, I thought it prudent to ask you if theses claimants, and others similarly situated, will be able to receive funds under the BP Fund.

Please let me know if you will consider the claims of the Kleppinger Family and our 8 survivors. Obviously, though our request is not made on behalf of the other ten families and other injured we do not represent, they are probably interested in your decision as well. Thank you very much.

The House Judiciary Committee is also very concerned that Mr. Feinberg may not compensate the most obviously deserving persons. It is egregious that BP refuses to compensate human life by leaving out the dead and injured from this fund.

On August 20 the New York Times has brought to light this obvious inequity.

Published by maritime lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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