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Judge Barbier Fires Shot Across BP’s Bow


In what has become a common theme in the byzantine litigation that surrounds BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, Judge Carl Barbier once again slapped the hand of BP’s counsel for misleading the Court by selectively misquoting precedential case law.

In an Order released today dealing with the Medical Settlement’s Back-End-Litigation-Option (BELO), Judge Barbier admonished BP in this Footnote:

“The Court also cautions BP against misquoting cases to the court. Page three of BP’s reply brief purports to quote a sentence from Brotherhood Shipping, but BP’s quote omits, without even an ellipsis, the end of the sentence. Although this instance might not rise to the level of outright misrepresentation, BP’s selective omission does obscure the meaning of the source material (that a party who has taken advantage of a procedure distinctive to admiralty, probably should not be allowed to change the 9(h) election), particularly when BP’s quote is considered with other statements BP included near its quotation.” – Judge Barbier, FN 2, Page 4

This is a classic BP move, and one that is curious in light of the company’s massive media campaign against fraud and deception. Of course, this is not the first time Judge Barbier and others have questioned BP’s veracity.

There was BP’s 2013 attempt to renegotiate the causation standards in the Business Economic Loss Settlement Agreement that the company itself authored and signed. Judge Barbier was having none of it:

“BP accuses the Claims Administrator of “rewriting” and ‘systematically disregarding’ the Settlement Agreement. To the contrary, when it talks about causation, if anyone is attempting to rewrite or disregard the unambiguous terms of the Settlement Agreement, it is counsel for BP.

Frankly, it is surprising that the same counsel who represented BP during the settlement negotiations, participated in drafting the final Settlement Agreement, and then strenuously advocated for approval of the settlement before this Court, now come to this Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and contradict everything they have previously done or said on this issue. Such actions are deeply disappointing.” – Judge Barbier, Order, November 22, 2013

And in 2014 BP tried to sneak in some extra pages into one of its briefs:

“BP’s counsel filed a brief that, at first blush, appeared just within the 35-page limit. A closer study reveals that BP’s counsel abused the page limit by reducing the line spacing to slightly less than double-spaced. As a result, BP exceeded the (already enlarged) page limit by roughly six pages.

“The Court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules — particularly in a case as massive and complex as this. … Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.” – Judge Barbier, Order, September 15, 2014 at 2

Let’s not forget the time when BP declared “mission accomplished” with regard to cleanup efforts, only to be told by the Coast Guard to stand down. Or that fake and photoshopped picture purporting to show BP’s Houston Emergency Response Center. The company often says one thing while doing the exact opposite.

And for what it’s worth, the BELO claims at issue in this particular case involve some 40,0000 people who came forward in the days following the spill to help the company clean up its mess. These folks were told not to worry about exposure to the oil and dispersant chemicals, that such dispersants were no more harmful than soap. Years later, various medical ailments plague this population (did you know that most Exxon Valdez clean up workers are now dead?). They simply want to be made whole and get well, yet BP sees fit to mislead the court about the law governing the Medical Settlement.

BP – Making it right in the Gulf…

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