Editorial says AG King's timing is off

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - An Alabama columnist is questioning state Attorney General Troy King's plan to sue oil giant BP in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.

Joey Kennedy of the Birmingham News questioned King's timing in a column published Monday. 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.

Kennedy wrote, "King said he'll sue over lost state revenue and the ecological harm caused by the disaster. Certainly BP must pay, and be made to pay if the company starts getting wiggy on its promises. But the catastrophe is ongoing.

"At this stage, there's really no way to determine what the economic and ecological damage is. The crisis continues and there's more damage every day."

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.

"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.

King described the spill as "the largest legal disaster ever encountered," and said the state would be working for years to rebuild its economy.

The attorney general lost in the primary and is on his way out at the end of the year.

Kennedy calls the attorney general "a true lame duck," and suggests any decisions made regarding the state's handling of BP should be left up to his successor.

The columnist didn't have too much confidence in King, writing that he's "messed up an awful lot."

He wrote on Monday, "I don't know if we want King to make the big decisions on this lawsuit."

Kennedy wrote he also was troubled by King's announcement that he's hiring a law firm to handle the suit. That firm, the columnist wrote, will get up to 14 percent of whatever is recovered.

The firm of Balch & Bingham, LLP, has been selected to organize and lead a team of Alabama lawyers to "pursue the state's rights and to protect its interests in these matters," King said Thursday.

Kennedy questions why the Attorney General's Office doesn't handle it itself.

"That's giving away a lot of our 'ecological' and 'economic' damages," he wrote.

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