April 22nd, 2013 - Houston, Tx - Brent Coon & Associates has filed multiple lawsuits against BP and other defendants on behalf of over 10,000 of its clients who were victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and the ensuing Gulf oil spill in April 2010. The lawsuits, which were filed in several different jurisdictions along the Gulf Coast, also name Transocean and Halliburton as defendants.
The lawsuits were filed on the eve of the three year deadlines established pursuant to the Oil Pollution Act (OPA). This statute also required claimants to file a "presentment", or offer to settle, prior to initiating litigation. BP was given 90 days to respond to the demands. This presentment process was created in 1990 under OPA as a means to give claimants and the responsible party for an oil spill a way to reach a compensation agreement without having to use the court system.
Brent Coon said, "Our firm filed OPA demands on behalf of all of our clients. Unfortunately, BP did not have any interest in compensating victims within the presentment process. In fact, BP did not meet a single one of our client's demands. Many received form rejection letters and others received form requests for more information, much of which had already been provided within the original presentment. We would have been amenable to resolving any and all cases with BP through the presentment process or any of the other mechanisms put in place prior to litigation, but BP made no efforts to do so."
In May of 20l2, BP reached partial settlement through two agreements in the MDL litigation proceedings in New Orleans. These agreements created two separate Class settlement agreements - one resolving certain economic and property damage claims; the other resolving certain medical claims stemming primarily from the response effort. The MDL Court approved these agreements in December of 20l2. Eligible claimants were given the option to opt out of these agreements and pursue their case through individual litigation.
Coon encouraged most of his clients to opt out of the settlement agreement. "We were concerned that the loss methodologies to be used and the specific documentation required would be problematic for most of our claimants and that they would have no other recourse, as participation in the class required claimants to waive their right to sue, even if they were not offered anything in the class. Likewise, we were concerned that BP would not honor the terms of the agreement and we would be back to square one".
Those concerns have proven true, as the unwieldy claims process has been slow and inconsistent in the payment evaluation process and BP has undertaken appeals of many of the awards. Almost a year into this process and the majority of cases submitted are still unpaid.
"The class settlement agreements reached between BP and the PSC uses a 'one size fits all' calculation to determine a claimant's losses and injuries. While that methodology can work very well with a typical class, like a shareholder or consumer action, this is far from a typical class. Each claimant has its own unique set of circumstances which requires that each claim be reviewed individually on its own facts and merits. The fact is that while the settlement agreement offers fair compensation for a fraction of the overall claimants, we believe the vast majority will fare better by pursuing their recovery through the litigation system."
The lawsuits also include 1000s of claims excluded from any prior settlement agreements. BP has yet to acknowledge that many categories of claimants should be paid, regardless of the extent of their loss. They have excluded municipalities, offshore workers, casino and gaming industry workers, financial industry workers and businesses, and many other industries hit hard from the effects of the oil spill. "BP has done a good job in advertising and PR campaigns in misrepresenting their intentions. Most people listening to their ads have been made to believe that everyone has been fairly compensated and that everything has returned to normal. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that most people have not been compensated, even three years after the spill. Likewise, the effects of the spill are far from over. Scientists are continuing to research the impact of the spill on the delicate ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico and are finding a number of disturbing findings and many areas hit hard from the spill have yet to fully recover".
Coon is no stranger to going to court against large petrochemical companies, particularly BP. In 2005 he served as Lead Counsel in the litigation against BP following the 2005 Texas City Plant Explosion that killed 15 workers and injured hundreds of others. His work uncovered over seven million internal BP documents which exposed BP's internal corporate culture of profits over people. This resulted in a number of media and governmental investigations and Coon was able to assist the Department of Justice in successfully prosecuting felony charges against BP. Coon was featured in hundreds of news stories ranging from 60 Minutes to BBC and testified before Congress and the Texas Legislature. He and his clients also mandated that BP dedicate $40 million dollars to industrial safety and industrial accident treatment programs at several universities and hospitals as a condition of settlement and he was given the Steven J Sharp "Lawyer of the Year" award for his efforts.
Coon also served as Chair of several key discovery committees for the Plaintiffs Steering Committee on the BP Oil Spill Litigation pending in New Orleans, including Co-chair of the BP corporate conduct committee. His firm is one of the primary firms leading the appeal of the class settlement in the oil spill as a further effort to protect his clients and others full rights to present their claims ultimately to a jury of their peers if resolution with BP cannot be obtained.
"We learned long ago that companies like BP never have an intention to do the right thing. If they had that mentality, most of these tragedies would have never occurred in the first place. The bottom line for most of these large corporations is money, it every other issue, including safety, becomes secondary...almost an afterthought.
We will see this litigation through and we will work on this case every single day until every single client has obtained closure.”
About Brent Coon & Associates:Brent Coon & Associates was founded in 2001. Today, with multiple offices around the country and a sophisticated network of hundreds of other litigation firms around the world, BCA is the epitome of the 21st century law practice.
Brent Coon & Associates employs a full complement of aggressive litigators with solid experience in individual and complex multi-party, occupational/environmental, health and personal injury cases. Staff resources include in house software programmers and Information Technology teams necessary in this age of high end litigation. The majority of the firm's cases are referred from attorneys who have confidence in the firm's integrity, expertise, success rate and solid work ethic. BCA has a well proven track record for handling complex, multi-party cases, with an emphasis on occupational and environmental law, business litigation and personal injury practice. In only the first decade of operations, the firm has been retained by tens of thousands of Plaintiffs and has recovered over a billion dollars in settlements and trials.
BCA is a public policy firm and has worked with numerous state and federal investigative agencies, most notably in the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion which resulted in the successful resolution of hundreds of civil cases, a criminal plea agreement in working with the Department of Justice, numerous safety related reforms across the petrochemical industry and over $40,000,000.00 dollars dedicated to landmark safety programs and advancements in industrial health care.
Institutional clients include numerous activist and environmental organizations and unions all over the country representing railroad workers, aviation workers and pilots, law enforcement, steel industry, paper and forestry industry, and the petrochemical industry.
Brent Coon & Associates Law Firm - Beaumont, Texas
215 Orleans St.
Beaumont, TX 77701