July 29, 2010
GOVERNOR BARBOUR ASKS ATTORNEY GENERAL HOOD TO REFRAIN FROM FILING BP SUIT WHILE CLAIMS PROCESS IS IN PROGRESS
Lawsuit could halt payments to Mississippians by BP
Governor Haley Barbour asked Attorney General Jim Hood on Wednesday to refrain from filing suit against BP until the claims process and the Natural Resource Damage Assessment have a chance to work. A lawsuit may interrupt the payment of claims.
“Undoubtedly, filing suit against BP now is not in the interests of Mississippi and its fishermen, shrimpers, and charter boat captains, to name a few,” Governor Barbour wrote. “I want those people and businesses with legitimate claims to recover their rightful damages; I want the State of Mississippi to recover for its economic losses and damages to restore any natural resources damaged by the spill. Premature litigation would benefit a handful of plaintiff lawyers in the long term but likely harm claimants who would otherwise be paid in the near term.”
When the State of Alaska decided to sue Exxon for recovery of damages caused by the Exxon Valdez disaster, Exxon ceased paying claims. Governor Barbour believes the third-party claims process overseen by Ken Feinberg and the NRDA process overseen by Executive Director of DEQ should be given a chance to work.
“Given the number of claims, it is highly unlikely that all claims will be resolved without the need for litigation,” Governor Barbour wrote in a letter. “However, if you sue BP now, then, as happened in Alaska, the process that is currently paying claims on a regular basis may grind to a halt.”
Governor Barbour stated he has confidence that experts at the state’s universities and agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Quality, will examine the oil spill’s impact on Mississippi environmentally and economically. So far, BP has paid $65 million to the state to offset costs incurred by agencies and local governments and to aid tourism promotional campaigns.
The letter is here.