On April 21, this space discussed the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion that happened early that morning. The story has grown large since then and we discussed it further on April 30. At Long & Long, in Mobile, Alabama, we are accepting damage claims related to this oil spill.
Although the rig was used by British Petroleum, it was actually owned by Transocean, Ltd., the world’s largest offshore drilling company, according to its own website. Nine of their employees lost their lives in the explosion, as well as two BP employees. The rig, called Deepwater Horizon, is 41 miles offshore from Louisiana but Alabama beaches are also at risk along with all the Gulf coastline.
As we all know, oil and water do not naturally mix. The oil from this spill is floating on the Gulf of Mexico waters in areas of reddish blobs and cleanup crews are working to remove it. Some of it is congealing into what are called tarballs, and some of these are washing up on Alabama beaches. As of yesterday, although BP is still trying to stop it, oil is still leaking from the rig at a rate estimated to be 5,000 barrels per day. This is increasingly complicating the situation and the measures that must be taken to clean up.
Transocean Plans to File Petition
A Transocean spokesman said yesterday that the company plans to try and limit its liability to about $27 million, based on an 1851 law that makes the owner of a sunken vessel liable only for its value after an accident, not its value before the accident. Transocean is planning to file a petition to this effect in a U.S. District Court in Houston.
One Robert Cunningham, a Mobile, Alabama attorney who has previously filed suits against Transocean and Halliburton (which was involved because of being contracted to provide construction materials), said (in part) in a prepared statement:
- “Whatever the value of the rig was is a drop in the ocean compared to the devastation and damages which have been and will be caused by the combined negligence and wrongdoing of Transocean, BP, and Halliburton.”
In the U.S., people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It remains to be seen which company is guilty of what wrongdoing, if any, and no doubt there will be ample media coverage of law claims related to this oil spill. With three large corporations involved, and representatives of all three already in a Senate hearing this week, there will be a long aftermath to this event. The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined.
However, BP’s senate hearing representative Lamar McKay, who is the company’s Chairman and President of BP America, has been clear that BP will pay for damages caused by this spill, as long as they are legitimate claims.
- “We have been very clear — we are going to pay all legitimate claims,” he said. “Our intent is to be fair, to be judicious and to be expeditious.”
Our maritime law attorneys are experienced with Jones Act claims, the act which covers maritime accidents at drilling rigs as well as on ships and boats. Please see our page on this oil spill for more information.
Please call or email our Mobile, Alabama law firm today if you would like to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, whether it is in regard to the oil spill or another matter.