Articles Posted in BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Monday, July 11th Gov Bobby Jindal, along with other local and state officials, revealed his plans for restoring Louisiana’s coastal areas, fisheries, and oyster seed grounds from the destructive effects of the BP oil spill. He says that the state will seek approval for more than a half billion dollars in restoration projects to repair coastal areas and fisheries affected by last year’s oil disaster. BP has already agreed to spend $1 billion in April of this year, a pact with the federal government and the five Gulf States. Through the $1 billion agreement from BP, the five Gulf states get $100 million each and the federal government will get $200 million. The remaining $300 million with be divvied out to projects deemed the most urgent, here, Louisiana hopes to get the majority of that $300 million, and to see a share of the $200 million federal portion spent on projects here on our own shores. Of the $1 billion, Jindal’s “Louisiana Plan” details projects that will restore wetlands, improve barrier islands and eroded shorelines, build ridges, breakwaters and land bridges to protect existing shorelines. “We expect to receive a fair share, a disproportional share, of those dollars, based on the amount of damage that happened to our coast,” Jindal said. He continued, citing a number of reports and federal statistics on which the coast of Louisiana received 92 percent of the heavily and moderately oiled shoreline, and than most of the birds, mammals, fish and other wildlife were also heavily affected. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell noted that not only Louisiana will be requesting shares of the money, other states represented on the council of trustees will be making cases justifying their regions own need. “Every state has a seat at the table,” Caldwell said, additionally stating that the Jindal administration has put together a thorough list of proposed projects that Jefferson Parish President John Young calls “shovel ready.” Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves, will present Jindal’s projects next week to a committee of trustees representing the Gulf states and other federal agencies, where it must be approved and subsequently approved by BP.

Among the states affected by the oil spill, Louisiana developed their plan of more than 350 proposals from the public, parishes and state agencies, while other states are still holding hearings to request projects to submit for the funding. Jindal focuses on the Louisiana oyster industry, requesting $15 million from BP to rebuild the state’s once thriving oyster industry. In a recent report, BP claims that the Louisiana oyster industry was not affected by the oil but by the freshwater diversions along the Mississippi River. Understanding this, Jindal’s projects counters BP’s report by providing information where the freshwater diversions were an effort to keep oil out of fragile wetland habitats, and therefore a subsequent result of the oil spill.

The governor’s plans include a $12 million oyster project to position clutch materials on 855 acres of public oyster grounds in parts of Mississippi Sound, Lakes Fortuna, Lake Machias, Hackberry Bay, Lake Chien, Sister Lake, and Calcasieu Lake, with $3 million improving oyster hatcheries at Grand Isle. Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes would receive more than $146 million directed at improving and restoring their fisheries and coastal areas. In Lafourche, the state has already set aside $77 million of the $220 million needed for the Caminada headland project, which will re-establish 2,066 acres of beach, 7-foot-high sand dunes and marshes between Belle Pass and Caminada Pass on Fourchon and Elmer’s Island. In response to Jindal’s plan, Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet expressed his support saying, “We were one of the most impacted parishes, and I think we got our fair share.”
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Kenneth Feinberg, administer of economic damage payments for The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has paid out almost $4.5 billion, with $2.6 billion being payments from an emergency payment phase, to local businesses and personal claims along the gulf coast. Feinberg has utilized a quick-pay process to quickly settle the straightforward, non-continuing claims, awarding almost $1 billion in final settlements in four months of this year.

In the past two months, the GCCF has distributed close to $700 million for more complex claims that involved full review, analyzing, and documentation. The good news is that the average payment has been steadily rising in the past two months, from $16,000 to $20,000.

Since the first year anniversary of the spill this past April, Feinberg has granted an additional 15 percent of claimants, totaling 26 percent now, and made offers to nearly half of the 115,000 settlement-seeking claimants. Feinberg reports that many individuals and businesses are still submitting claims, even though the pace has drastically decreased in comparison to previous quarters. There is still time to submit a claim for your business or personal income loss, and it is important to correctly complete your claim with the necessary information and support to guarantee the greatest possible result.

Thus far, the GCCF has processed over 95 percent of the 300,000 claims filed before the end of May. Forty percent of those were deemed either deficient or ineligible. There are 54,000 claimants seeking final payment whom Feinberg considers eligible, and if they continues at this rate, all eligible claims will be paid off in the next four months. If the average payment stays the same, rather than increasing like it has been, $1.1 billion will be paid before November.
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Thursday June 9th 2011, Jack M. Weiss who was appointed by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator Kenneth R. Feinberg, and serves as the chancellor of the Louisiana State University Paul M. Herbert Law Center, appointed 25 “distinguished members of the legal community” to serve as the appeals judges on Gulf Coast Claims Facility appeal judgments. This grouping of “highly competent, respected and experienced,” retired federal and state judges, legal academics and professional mediators or arbitrators were selected from the directly affected areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. They will serve to handle the billions of dollars in claims against BP and the other companies involved in the 2010 rig explosion that poured hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, interrupting fisheries, businesses and tourism.

To file an appeal with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the claim must surpass $250,000 and must be presented to the GCCF no longer than 14 days after the Determination Letter has been issued to the claimant. The Panel of Appeals Judges will view and decide the outcome of your claim within fourteen days after receiving the file. It is vital that your form include an exhaustive listing of your claim and filed correctly in compliance with the GCCF. If you are business owner with a claim, or one affected by the oil spill, contact a knowledgeable attorney with the resources to handle large claims and one who will guarantee the greatest obtainable outcome.
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Thousands of gulf oil spill clean-up workers were hired as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. These workers were adorned with clean up suits, gloves and masks. Interactions between the workers and the oil and dispersants creates health problems for the workers.
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In connection with recent British Petroleum disaster, Thornhill Law Firm has submitted the following information for consideration by the Court for leadership positions:

1. Thornhill Class Action Experience begins in 1992 and includes mass and toxic tort classes:
Thornhill is the managing partner of the Thornhill Law Firm located in Slidell, Louisiana and Thornhill, Shrader and Burdette, located in Houston, Texas, whose career spans more than 32 years as a trial lawyer.
Thornhill has an extensive track record of successful litigation throughout the United States and, particularly, in the country’s federal and state court systems, including Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Among the class action cases in which Thornhill has been involved, Thornhill class action settlements over the years include:
A. James Cason, et. al. v. Sears Roebuck 1916 Profit Sharing Plan, USDC – Northern Division of Illinois, Eastern Division, No. 92-C-8253. In 1992, Thornhill served as lead counsel in class action claims for over 350,000 members of the Sears Roebuck 1916 Employee Profit Sharing Plan. The settlement realized injunctive relief, a change of plan liabilities, and removed an illegal encumbrance of Sears Roebuck stock. The settlement included a multi-million dollar financial benefit to the Employee Profit Sharing Plan.
B. Hilda Austin, et. al. In Re: New Orleans Train Car Leakage Fire Litigation, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, No. 2001-5104, Div. D. Thornhill represented intervening firemen omitted from the class, achieving confidential settlement in the class action.
C. Adams, v. Environmental Purification Advancement Corporation, et. al., USDC – Western Division of Louisiana, Lafayette Division, No. 99-1998. Thornhill was assigned non-lead defense representation for one client; the client’s obligations were settled as part of the class.
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The oil spill catastrophe caused by BP, Anadarko, Haliburton, Mitsui/MODEC, M-I Swaco and perhaps others is causing damages to shrimpers, boat owners, businesses and to the wildlife, fish, birds and animals. Thornhill Law Firm is pursing class actions in federal district court in New Orleans and in Gulfport. In addition, claims for civil penalties have been asserted in lawsuits filed on behalf of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries through local District Attorneys in four parishes. The State Wildlife and Fisheries claims have recently been removed to federal district court in New Orleans and Lafayette. Motions to remand are being filed on behalf of the State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. In similar claims for civil penalties after the Exxon Valdez spill, Exxon was cast with and/or settled claims totaling over $1 billion dollars. The scope of the claims in Louisiana may exceed $1 billion dollars.