NEWS RELEASE – Faegre & Benson Files Suit Against BP on Behalf of 495 Fishermen
BP Reneged on Contractual Commitments to Shrimpers, Crabbers and Oystermen
MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 9, 2011)—Faegre & Benson LLP yesterday filed suit against affiliates of British Petroleum (“BP”) seeking to compel BP to honor its commitments to fishermen contracted by BP to assist in the clean-up effort after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
The fishermen seeking compensation participated in BP’s “Vessels of Opportunity” (“VoO”) program, but have neither been paid the amounts that BP agreed to pay them for use of their boats nor have had had their boats decontaminated at BP’s expense, as provided for in the VoO program. Many of the plaintiffs are Vietnamese-American fishermen.
In many instances, BP has made it impractical for the fishermen to use their boats for any purpose other than the VoO program, by failing to decontaminate the boats. As a result, BP forced fishermen to keep their boats idle at the docks and available for BP’s use at any time. Despite having contracted to pay fishermen for this control over their boats, BP has refused to honor the terms of the contract.
“A deal is a deal,” said Gerry Nolting, a partner at Faegre & Benson who represents the fishermen. “BP contracted with these people to be available 24/7 for clean-up operations. BP agreed to pay them for their active participation in clean up, for ‘stand-by time’, and for decontaminating their boats after the clean-up work is done. Now they are reneging on that agreement.”
The 17-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana also asserts that BP has worked to deceive the fishermen into relinquishing their rights under the original VoO contract by asking them to sign substitute contracts which significantly reduce the compensation BP would pay.
“Many of these fishermen don’t speak English and need considerable assistance in understanding their legal rights under U.S. law. BP has taken advantage of the situation in a truly terrible way,” Nolting added.
About Faegre & Benson:
Faegre & Benson LLP offers a full complement of legal services to clients ranging from emerging enterprises to multinational companies. Our 450 lawyers handle complex transactions and litigation matters throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Established in Minneapolis in 1886, our firm is one of the 100 largest law firms in the United States. From offices in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, London and Shanghai, Faegre & Benson has served clients in more than 100 countries. For more information, please visit: www.faegre.com.