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1 Jul 2010

Financial Times

BP: Eagles and vultures [USA]

Tony Buzbee, owner of The Buzbee Law Firm in Houston, Texas, has more than a thousand clients with one common goal: to extract money from BP over the Gulf of Mexico disaster. They include 18 men who were injured in the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, one of whom suffered 60 per cent burns. Others, such as fishermen, allege their livelihoods have been directly undermined by the spill...It will not be lost on the company’s lawyers that ExxonMobil fought the Valdez case for two decades, taking some of the emotional sting out of it and eventually having a $5bn punitive damages award cut by 90 per cent on appeal...The only near-certainty – given the compensation fund the company has established – is that the total liabilities will run into the tens of billions of dollars, putting it somewhere between the estimated $4bn Valdez costs and the hundreds of billions in cases involving tobacco and asbestos. [also refers to Anadarko, Halliburton, Macondo, Merck, Mitsui, Transocean]