BP pledges to forgo liability releases

Chris Rizo May 7, 2010, 2:22pm

Buddy Caldwell (D-La.)

BATON ROUGE, La. (Legal Newsline)-The top U.S. lawyer for BP said Friday that the energy company will not seek to prevent lawsuits related to its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana attorney general announced.

In a letter to the five state attorneys general who represent Gulf Coast states, BP General Counsel John Lynch Jr. said claimants against the company will not be asked to release BP from liability.

"I confirm that no person asserting a claim or receiving payment for interim benefits through our claims process will be asked or required to sign a release or to waive any rights to assert additional claims, to file an individual legal action, or to participate in other legal actions associated with this oil spill," Lynch wrote.

The letter memorializes a conference call Lynch had Thursday with Gulf State attorneys general: Buddy Caldwell of Louisiana, Greg Abbott of Texas, Bill McCollum of Florida, Troy King of Alabama and Jim Hood of Mississippi.

BP has also pledged a two-day turnaround time on damage claims, officials said.

Since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the Louisiana coast April 20, killing 11 workers, about 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, of oil have been flooding into Gulf waters daily.

On Thursday, the attorneys general asked President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help ensure there is a unified state-federal response to the spill.

In a letter, the attorneys general said their states have already experienced significant losses.

"In addition to the enormous threatened natural resource damages, our states have already suffered the great costs of early removal and response actions and stand to lose additional taxes, fees, and other revenue as a result of this incident as well as the losses likely to be suffered by our citizens and businesses," they said, possibly setting the stage for a legal claim against the British energy company.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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