Jessica M. Karmasek Jul. 23, 2010, 6:57am
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Troy King announced on Thursday he is preparing a lawsuit against BP and the others responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to make up for lost tax revenue.
"The time has come to formally prepare for the legal battle that will be required to defend our state's interests and recover full compensation from BP, Transocean and the other parties legally responsible for this disaster," King said at a press conference.
An explosion and fire occurred on Transocean's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, licensed to BP, on April 20, killing 11 workers and resulting in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.
King described the spill as "the largest legal disaster ever encountered," and said the state would be working for years to rebuild its economy.
King also expressed his dissatisfaction with Kenneth Feinberg, who was appointed by President Barack Obama as an independent claims facilitator, and the oil giant for their handling of claims.
"Mr. Feinberg created a draft protocol, developed in secret and vetted by BP before it was shared with public officials," King told reporters. "His work clearly protects BP instead of the citizens with losses.
"Now we have discovered that Mr. Feinberg is being paid by BP and has been provided an aircraft for his private use by BP to facilitate his proselytizing for BP's interests in eliminating as many claims as he can. Mr. Feinberg has not told the injured coastal citizens any of this."
King said Feinberg insisted on meeting with governors and attorneys general one-on-one, but cancelled his meeting with King after he learned that the other coastal states' attorneys general were joining the meeting.
"He pretends to negotiate with the coastal attorneys general, while holding town meetings with our citizens where he 'sells' the most offensive elements of his original protocol, such as demanding a 'final' resolution of all claims against BP as a condition of claims payment," he said.
King continued, "Feinberg's actions are deceptive and, under the colors of the President of the United States, entice innocent and financially blasted citizens to release forever their valid legal claims against BP based on his 'that's the way it is' statements. I will not allow this to continue and I am prepared to take legal action, if necessary, to stop Mr. Feinberg from causing further harm to an already traumatized populace unless the President does so first."
The firm of Balch & Bingham has been selected to organize and lead a team of lawyers to "pursue the state's rights and to protect its interests in these matters," King said Thursday.
"Make no mistake -- we will be ready and we will pursue all violations of our state's statutes and regulations and we will obtain complete financial restitution for all losses and impacts," King said.
King, a Republican, lost his party's primary earlier this year to Luther Strange and is in his final year as AG.