Monday, May 3, 2010

BP Dispatches "Litigation Mitigation Team" to the Gulf

The Daily Beast

May 3, 2010

BP Tries Damage Control

by Rick Outzen

"The oil giant has dispatched a "litigation mitigation team" to the Gulf, offering money to local fishermen and business owners. Rick Outzen, on the scene there, asks: What are they trying to hide? Plus, Eric Dezenhall on BP’s PR strategy.

While the federal and Gulf Coast governments have largely ceded the role of stopping and cleaning up the huge environmental disaster caused by the explosion and eventual sinking of the Deep Horizon well, British Petroleum also spent the weekend pursuing a different agenda with locals: stopping lawsuits and cleaning up their PR image.

This effort comes at a critical time. The oil slick, currently the size of Puerto Rico, is beginning to paint local coastlines. Communities that make their money from the water face “minimum” 10-day fishing bans, and the mood from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle is angry—and scared.

“Let me say this as your friend,” the mayor told the attendees. “If you take one penny from BP make sure you don’t sign a release form…”

So BP has dispatched a litigation mitigation team, which held public information meetings in small towns along the Gulf Coast this weekend. The pitch to local fishermen, business owners and local officials, based on one such meeting in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, a small commercial fishing village: You don’t need to hire lawyer. Instead, call a BP hotline, and claim total damages for yourself and your businesses of up to $5,000. The damaged individuals and businesses would be required to sign BP paperwork, company officials said." More>>>>

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