Plaintiffs Accuse BP of Accessing Confidential Claims

, The National Law Journal

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Lawyers in the $9.2 billion Deepwater Horizon settlement are accusing BP PLC of accessing confidential information about individuals and businesses that have filed claims for oil spill damages.

What's being said

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    Note that those obfuscating and defending the thieving hyenas in New Orleans on this thread refuse to identify themselves, whereas the transparent and straightforward American Tort Reform Association is happy to do so.

    -Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association, Wshington, D.C.

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    A sad commentary by the American Tort Reform Association and typical of their own efforts to deprive the non-corporation owning American population of their rights in the US legal system. Please note their silly, child-like response to a serious and detailed subject matter. Please ask Mr. Darren McKinney what salary he and others receive as lobbyist and from whom they receive it while considering his accusations that attorneys and claimants in the Gulf region are a "pack of Hyenas. The real "feasting" is going on daily in Washington DC and these lobbyists are the more vicious of those attacking the individual American‘s rights to a fair access to the US judicial system.

    Remember BP agreed to this Settlement and crafted many of the portions they now consider harmful. Is it not likely that BP wrote and pushed portions of this settlement with the pre-planned intent of using their own questionably written portions as a means to appear to settle and provide relieve, while in reality their intent was ti use it as a fake to fool the American public while they freeze all settlement opportunities for years to come? Don‘t let the real criminals go free.

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    The author should read BP‘s response carefully as BP does apparently admit to accessing and using "Claims Related" information (which all parties agree is proper) as well as admitting to using "Claims Level" information from individual claims files. In their response BP does not appear to deny accessing "Claims Specific" files which are the crux and specific protests by the Plaintiffs Steering Committee. BP‘s use of the term "Claims Level" and their defense of that usage is troubling and likely signals an attempt by BP to rewrite the Settlement Agreement terms to allow themselves access previously unavailable to these individual claimant files far before the those files have reached a determination eligibility (as demanded in the Settlement Agreement). In short BP is juggling terminology to fool observers, including the author of this article.

    BP has rights to the general claimant filing data to generate trends and understand the flow of claims as laid out in the Settlement Agreement. BP is now using part of that phrase from the Settlement Agreement and from correspondence with the Administrators office "claim filing data" to grab and onto the two words "claim filing" omitting the important word "data" used in the Settlement Agreement and quoted in those emails used by BP in their defense filing.

    BP also uses the phrase where they have rights to access certain specific "claim files" "for legitimate purposes" which are specified to include use in related appeals (as in an employee or management personnel filings contemporaneous with the company they are associated with.) BP has accessed these "claim files" and in some cases BP has moved to publish misleading statements about the claimants as has been done repeatedly in their full page national media ads. (Please note that not one of those mentioned in BP adds has been presented in full to any court with any demand for overturning beyond the one which Louis Freeh put before the court regarding the much debated law group related to Mr. Sutton.)

    BP is claiming their First Amendment Right to speak out against any and all occurrences where they feel the Settlement Agreement has been unfairly used and while that may seem a noble statement, it flies in the face of every precedent on "gag orders" and closed hearings that exist in the US legal system. The Settlement Agreement itself contains a multi-level appeals process for BP to utilize and it specifically bars BP for accessing such claims files for any illegitimate purposes which does include publishing such information to the general public while a court supervised claims process is still in progress on a given claim. Moreover BP is banned from using this data to influence the settlement system and it‘s vendors in their decisions on such claims themselves.

    BP has conducted regular meetings, functionally behind closed doors, with the lead vendor and BP‘s own contractor from the GCCF claims period BrownGreer. Though these meetings were know to the Claims Administrator and the PSC, it is very troubling and an open door for abuse when paired with BP‘s previously unknown but now accused practices of accessing a possibly unlimited and unknown number of individual claim files. Has BP been influencing the methodology used to determine claims, even individual business and personal claims? These are indeed troubling questions and many claimants are now questioning the fairness of their previously awarded settlements and may themselves en masse move to strike down all previously executed releases with BP.

    It is now up to BP to convince all that they have not actually done what the PSC accuses and that may be a very difficult step and one that will likely have serious ramifications on BP‘s attempts to get an en banc hearing in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals or before the US Supreme Court.

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    Another transparent effort on the part of shameless bayou shysters to distract attention away from the wholesale fraud that has been their spinning from whole cloth of countless false claims. Life without parole would be too light a sentence for this disgraceful pack of hyenas.

    -Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association, Washington, D.C.

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