“It is un-American for a person who was knowingly injured by a big corporation which was found to be grossly negligent to be denied or repeatedly delayed their day in court,” said General Honore. “I did not spend decades defending my country and our institutions of democracy only to come home and watch something like this happen without a fight. We have had enough and will speak out demanding that the government and justice system provide either settlements from BP or expedited jury trials immediately as required by our Constitution. The legal shenanigans which have hindered and delayed these citizens' lawsuits must stop. BP’s tactic has been deny, delay and don’t pay.”
Flanked by fishermen and cleanup workers, the family members of deceased residents who developed chronic conditions from the spill’s toxic chemicals, and other advocates for the Gulf, General Honore urged residents to take action. A rally for BP health victims is scheduled for Saturday, April 21 in New Orleans’ Duncan Plaza and already more than 25,000 individuals have signed a Care2 petition to Judge Carl Barbier asking for these victims to be made whole.
Citing a 2018 Garretson Resolution Group “Status Report from the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Settlement Claims Administrator” about the BP spill claims process, Rally Organizer Jonathan Henderson said, “Over 80 percent of those who submitted a health claim were either denied or only given the bare minimum compensation. Only 40 out of the 37,226 claims for compensation for a chronic condition have been paid.
“Many people who are sick with chronic conditions are being forced to file an individual lawsuit against BP and pay a $400 filing fee to get back into a class action lawsuit they were already admitted in to. Eight years after the spill, none of these claimants have been able to present their evidence to a jury. Those who opted out of the settlement have fared no better because Judge Carl Barbier has allowed these cases to be stayed indefinitely.
“The attorneys on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee walked away with more than $679 million and the politically-appointed Claims Administrator walked away with $155 million. However, of the tens of thousands of clean-up workers and others suffering with health-related problems who submitted a claim in the outlined process, only 20 percent were given even the minimum compensation--$1300,” said Henderson.
Henderson and the General pointed to these facts:
- Cleanup workers were injured and made sick with a variety of chronic conditions because neither BP or the federal government, despite objections by Occupation Safety Health Administration (OSHA) required cleanup workers to be provided with safety equipment, such as respirators, gloves, boots, Tyvek suits and similar protective gear.
- Many cleanup workers and zone residents have developed cancer, blood diseases, and neurologic problems related to the toxic oil/corexit mixture and other toxic exposures from the BP spill and cleanup, but compensation for the aforementioned chronic conditions has been effectively eliminated.
- Under the Medical Benefits settlement process, to help those now suffering with, or having died from chronic conditions like leukemia, cancers or respiratory issues, so far only 40 claims--out of more than 37,000 which qualified for compensation--were paid for their serious chronic condition cases.
- The Claims Administrator, in charge of processing and paying up to $60,000 to qualified victims in the first round of claims to injured people who helped in the cleanup or lived in the designated disaster zones, suddenly changed the rules and saved BP over a billion dollars in pay-outs since 2010.
- The vast majority of claimants with chronic conditions are now being forced to file an individual lawsuit against BP and pay a $400 filing fee to get back into a class action they were already admitted in to.
- Eight years after the spill, those who opted out of the current “settlement” have not been able to present their evidence to a jury and U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier has allowed these cases to be stayed indefinitely.
“Immediately after crews began cleaning up the errant oil, I began seeing people who were adversely affected by this tragic event,” said Dr. Mike Robichaux. “I treated scores of individuals affected by the disaster. Aside from the spill itself, the other tragedy that emanated from this disaster was the fact that no-one chose to acknowledge that anyone became ill as the result of the spill and no one has chosen to assist those individuals who became ill with their often severe medical problems.”
“My husband worked as an oil responder on a boat and was exposed to the toxic oil and dispersants every day,” said Tiffany Odoms. “He started getting very sick and was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and spent the next two and half years in and out of cancer treatment before he died. Before the spill he was a very healthy man who got regular checkups. Not only did BP take away my husband, they also took away the father of our five children. We need justice now.”
“If I hadn’t served this country in the military I would probably not be alive today,” said Captain Joseph Brown, who, with his wife, was part of the clean up efforts. “The VA saved my life. BP used a dispersant called Corexit to sink the oil, and it made the oil over 50 times more toxic. They told us it was as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid. As workers, we were not allowed to wear any type of protective gear because they wanted to show that what we were working with wasn’t toxic. I had open wounds and needed treatments as if i had been exposed to Agent Orange.”
George Barisich, a commercial fisherman who used his boat in the clean up efforts said: “BP would not let us wear the protective gear that we were given as we fought the spill. They said no one would get sick. After thousands got sick, in the settlement BP acknowledged exposure but denied the exposure was sufficient to cause the numerous illnesses and cancers. We applied enough public pressure to force BP to include a medical settlement. BP admitted liability but does not want to acknowledge the illnesses and cancers they caused. The forces that be manipulated the system and the medical settlement is worthless for thousands of sick people. Today is the day for those without a voice to be heard.”
“I was angry when this unnecessary disaster happened and I’m even angrier now that we know why it happened: Corporate greed. The injustice must stop here,” General Honore said. “My anger will be focused on this miscarriage of justice and will not end until the victims are treated fairly. At the time of settlement, BP and the Plaintiff Steering Committee Attorneys assured everyone this would not be another Exxon Valdez. So far that has proven to be completely untrue. The damages to the human health continue to mount uncontrollably because this was a heavily populated area of our country and a warm, humid environment.”
The Rally for BP Health Victims is set for 11 a.m., Saturday, April 21, Duncan Plaza, 1300 Perdido Street. Online petitions can be found here:
ABOUT JUSTICE FOR BP HEALTH VICTIMS: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforBPhealthvictims
Jonathan Henderson, JD, MBA, Jswissnola@gmail.com 504-453-1375 NOTE: B-roll available upon request
Jacques Morial, MPA, email@example.com (504) 315-5388