Just Sign Right Here On The Dotted Line

George Talbot at Press Register:

Alabama Attorney General Troy King said tonight that he has told representatives of BP Plc. that they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians.

The agreements, King said, essentially require that people give up the right to sue in exchange for payment of up to $5,000.

King said BP’s efforts were particularly strong in Bayou La Batre.

The attorney general said he is prohibited from giving legal advice to private citizens, but added that “people need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that.

“They should seek appropriate counsel to make sure their rights are protected,” King said.
By the end of Sunday, BP aimed to sign up 500 fishing boats in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to deploy boom.

BP had distributed a contract to fishermen it was hiring that waived their right to sue BP and required confidentiality and other items, sparking protests in Louisiana and elsewhere.

Darren Beaudo, a spokesman for BP, said the waiver requirement had been stripped out, and that ones already signed would not be enforced.

“BP will not enforce any waivers that have been signed in connection with this activity,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Rachel Maddow:

Big oil is really, really big here. Tonight at 9 PM, we’ll have a special show live from Venice, Louisiana, all about the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

BP, which leased the Deepwater Horizon oil rig from Transocean, has been trying to contain the legal disaster as well as the natural one.

Today, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan struck down part of a charter contract between Louisiana fisherman and BP. The oil company was asking local fisherman, who’ve been put out of work by the oil disaster, to sign off an agreement saying they wouldn’t talk about what they saw without approval from BP, among other provisions.

In Alabama, BP representatives asked people in Bayou La Batre to sign away their right to sue in exchange for $5,000. Alabama Attorney General Troy King told them the BP reps they should stop doing that and encouraged local people to talk to a lawyer first.

Robert Burns and Steven Hurst at Huffington Post:

The Obama administration is pressing oil giant BP to clarify how the company will cover costs relating to the Gulf oil spill, even as BP indicated it would pay “legitimate and objectively verifiable” claims.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says reimbursement for individuals and state and federal government will be on the agenda when she and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar meet with BP’s top executives in Washington later Monday.

She told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the Obama administration wants to make sure there is a clear claims process set up for proper reimbursement. She also wants BP to stop requiring those volunteering with the cleanup to sign waivers limiting the company’s liability.

Meanwhile, in a fact sheet posted to the company’s website on Monday, BP said it took responsibility for the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and said “we will clean it up.”

The document says “BP will pay all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs” as well as “legitimate and objectively verifiable” claims for property damage, personal injury, and commercial losses. It pledged that claims will be “promptly investigated” and that resolved claims would be paid promptly.

Zachary Roth at Talking Points Memo:

Sid Jackson, a Mobile-based lawyer representing a shrimper who last week filed suit against BP, claiming that the spill had already taken a financial toll on his business, told TPMmuckraker that he believed BP would be wise to back down. “I think they kind of drop-kicked that [waiver] clause into the fine print,” Jackson said. But, “I think it would backfire” if BP tried to enforce it.

“This is the same company that told the coast guard there was no leak,” Jackson added.

BP has been hiring local fishermen to help with the effort to mitigate the impact of the spill — and has included what seems to have been a similar clause in the contracts it asked them to sign.

Spokespeople for BP and for King’s office did not immediately respond to TPMmuckraker’s requests for comment.

Steve Benen:

Nothing establishes goodwill like an oil company paying off individuals before they even know the extent of the still-unfolding disaster.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

If BP really wanted to manage their expenses at this time, maybe they could reduce the millions in lobbying costs that, strangely, did not succeed in capping the wellhead or stopping the advance of black murk. It did manage to intellectually capture Rep. Gene Taylor, however, so I guess that was money well spent.

In the end, I’m banking on at least some taxpayer money funding the aftermath of this catastrophe, or a lot of uncompensated people with their lives in tatters.

Doug J.:

Big government liberal regulations get in the way of Galtian superhero business.

When something goes wrong, no one could have predicted it.

Once it starts going wrong, nothing can be done unless you can do underwater surgery with robotic submarines, you naive fucking hippie.

Tort reform!

Countdown to the Mickey Kaus/Gregg Easterbrook about the good news about the oil spill.

And how come we never hear about all the oil rigs that aren’t spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico?

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