BP is a bully and we don’t have to take it

 Opinion By Rhon Jones, November 29, 2013 at 8:05 AM, updated November 29, 2013 at 8:22 AM

I am convinced that BP thinks they are smarter than everyone in our state, especially those who love our coast and the Gulf of Mexico. The definition of “bully” is a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people; or who is loudly arrogant and overbearing. The definition of a hypocrite is one who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude. These describe BP perfectly.

BP has spent millions of dollars on ads across the Gulf Coast and beyond telling us how great their company is and how committed they are to safety. I am sick and tired of their slick ad campaign taking the focus off of the facts and who they really are. Let’s take just a brief look at recent history.

BP was responsible for the Texas City Refinery Explosion in 2005 that killed 15 hard-working employees and injured 170 more. BP was cited for hundreds of safety violations and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said the explosion was “caused by organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of BP.”

In 2006 BP was involved in the worst oil spill ever on the North Slope of Alaska resulting in 267,000 gallons of oil released and pled guilty to negligent discharge of oil.

In 2010, BP was squarely in the middle of the largest blowout and oil spill in U.S. history, which led to some 100 to 200 million gallons of oil flowing into our Gulf. More importantly, 11 hard-working men were killed. Those men did not have to die. They left behind widows and children who live with the impact of BP’s conduct every single day.

BP pled guilty to 11 felonies as a result of those deaths, as well as pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. Let that sink in – a guilty plea to 11 felonies and obstruction of justice.

I noticed in one of BP’s recent ads they tout their creation of a state-of-the-art monitoring center to watch over all their drilling activity. Guess what, BP’s felony guilty plea required them to maintain this monitoring center! So BP pleads guilty and part of the plea is doing something they should have been doing all along, and on top of that they want to take credit for it in an advertisement!

The hypocrisy does not stop there. As a result of the 2010 disaster in the Gulf, BP agreed to a historic settlement that was not capped and they themselves said was fair and transparent. Once it became clear their estimates for the cost of the settlement would exceed their projections, BP became the very definition of a bully listed above using every resource available to them to try and attack the very settlement they wrote and agreed to.

I may not know much, but I know a giant corporate bully and a hypocrite when I see one. BP fits the bill on both counts. The lawyers at Beasley Allen, along with lawyers from other firms involved in the BP litigation in New Orleans, are fighting hard to make sure the oil giant is held accountable for their wrongdoing.

Rhon Jones is head of the Toxic Torts Section at Beasley Allen. He is one of the lead lawyers in the BP litigation, serving on the PSC, having been appointed by Judge Carl Barbier.