La. lawmakers propose new BP oil spill legislation

By Alejandro de los Rios | May 10, 2011


NEW ORLENAS (Legal Newsline) - Several proposed new laws in Louisiana's legislature would make it easier for Louisiana residents to sue BP, eliminating filing deadlines and retroactively nullifying settlement agreements.

Legislation has been proposed in the Louisiana House of Representatives that retroactively nullifies any settlement agreements made by BP with oil spill victims if they suffer future medical problems due to the spill or dispersants used in the cleanup.

House Bill 389 was proposed by Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, and "shall apply to all settlements and release entered into on or after April 20, 2010."

Another proposal, House Concurrent Resolution 48 by Rep. Truck Gisclair, D-Larose, asks the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to conduct investigations into health effects of the oil spill, subsequent cleanup and how residents should act to protect their long-term health.

In the Louisiana Senate, Bill 184 seeks to eliminate filing deadlines until 2021 for any lawsuits and other legislations relating to the BP oil spill.

The proposed legislation is the latest in the state of Louisiana's attempts to recover as much damages as possible from BP, Transocean, Halliburton and other companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion and Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

In March, Louisiana state House and Senate leadership announced that a special committee has been assigned to oversee the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) and its claims process.

The committee was formed after complaints from Louisiana residents expressing frustration with Ken Feinberg, the GCCF administrator, and the overall claims process.

Louisiana State Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, said that there has been "significant dissatisfaction with the way the claims process has been handled" among his constituents.

Louisiana politicians have also been pressing BP for a $15 million payment to help replenish oyster beds that were killed off when freshwater from the Mississippi river was diverted to the wet lands to combat encroaching oil.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana congressional delegation in Washington D.C. have lambasted BP for allegedly going back on an earlier promise to pay the state for the oysters.

BP has not made any commitment to pay back Louisiana for money spent on oyster and wetland restoration.

BP did agree to pay $1 billion, separate from any GCCF claims or other legislation, to Gulf States for coastal restoration projects.

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