Over the last few weeks I have spoken with many businesses owners who are struggling with whether or not to file a BP claim under the Deep-Water Horizon Settlement. It seems several business owners are struggling with whether it is moral to file a claim against BP since they can’t prove that the oil spill caused any damage to their business.
When BP entered into the settlement agreement, their motive was to do everything it could to settle the pending litigation against it. Obviously the reasons for BP wanting to enter into the settlement are various and could fill multiple blogs, but the bottom line was BP wanted the case to go away. The only way they convinced the class action attorneys to agree to settle the case was by removing the causation requirement from the equation. They wanted people to be able to file a claim regardless if they could prove that their business had been affected by the oil spill. Whether or not a business’ income had been affected by the oil spill is a difficult question to answer. I’ve spoken with individuals in North Mississippi and North Alabama all of which weren’t sure how could their business have been affected by an oil spill that happened over five hours away? I have told each of them the same thing, several of their customers may have had property or business ventures on the coast and when their financial interests are affected their purchasing power is also affected. The important thing to consider though is that millions of dollars were spent investigation the effect that this oil spill had on the Gulf Coast region, but will have in the future. As of today it’s still unknown as to the actual environmental impact this oil spill had on the Gulf Coast region. The settlement that was reached between the parties acknowledged this uncertainty, which is why having to establish causation was removed from the equation in determining whether or not a business had a BP claim.
Obviously the decision to file a BP claim by a business is a question that can only be answered by those business owners, but before you decide not to file a claim please remember that the conduct by BP which led to this disaster should not be given the benefit of the doubt. Based on BP’s conduct; they simply have not earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt. Their conduct which led to this disastrous event warrants the settlement that they agreed to, and each business owner that is eligible to file a claim should file a claim. In my humble opinion, I think it is every Gulf Coast business owner’s moral responsibility to the region to file a claim, to ensure that BP understands that their conduct in this case was reprehensible and that they need to be accountable for every possible loss that has been incurred by any Gulf Coast business has suffered as a result of this spill.