NACO Comments on Preliminary Settlement To Judge Barbier on Gulf Oil Spill

Attorneys met with Judge Barbier this week to seek approval of a preliminary agreement reached between BP and the Plaintiff’s attorneys.

The parties proposed the following timetable

• Notice to be sent out by May 3, 2012

• Motion papers in support of settlement to be filed by August 13, 2012

• Objections to be filed by August 31, 2012

• Opt-Out period to be closed by October 1, 2012

• Reply submissions to be filed by October 22, 2012

• Fairness hearing to be set and commenced on or about November 8, 2012

To read letter click here

April 24, 2012

Honorable Judge Carl Barbier

500 Poydras Street

Room C256

New Orleans, LA 70130

RE: Proposed BP Settlement

Dear Judge Barbier, 

NACO is a National Non-Profit organization that represents over 3,000 charter boats (small businesses) across the United States. A significant number of our members are located along the Gulf of Mexico.

We wish to comment and seek your assistance in forcing BP to treat all small businesses, which were affected by the Horizon Deepwater Oil Spill, equally. Under the current agreement ONLY charter boats are required to deduct 33% of their VOO payments against their final claims. For some charter boats after taxes and expenses 33% was their profit for VOO work, which means they worked side by side with other commercial vessels to prevent this disastrous oil spill from destroying the wildlife, fisheries, shrimping and oyster resources for nothing. 

We have attached (Exhibit 2) a letter dated May 3, 2010 where BPs attorney A.T. Chenault clearly states, “ We confirm that BP will NOT offset payments to vessels owners against claims they might have”. 

Exhibit 4 (attached) a GCCF release dated September 23, 2010 that states, “The GCCF announced that it would not deduct earnings from the Vessels of Opportunity Program from payments made to claimants. Approximately, 2,000 commercial fishing vessels and charter boats participated in spill cleanup via BPs Vessels of Opportunity program. The Program provided some commercial fishermen whose businesses were shut down by the spill with a chance to earn income. Feinberg stated: “I have listened to the fishermen in the Gulf. We will not be deducting their wages from their payments.” 

Exhibit 5 (attached) dated November 19, 2010 letter from U.S. Department of Justice states, “The draft final protocol could be more clear, as you have previously acknowledged, that individuals who participated in the Vessels of Opportunity program when BP pledged not to use those VOO payments as offsets will not see those payments offset”.

These VOO charter boat vessels help minimize,24/7, BP damages and financial losses from the worst spill disaster this country has ever seen, in return for a fair payment for that effort, and BP agreed not to reduce or offset these individual’s damage claims by any compensation payments made in the VOO clean-up programs. 

Please correct an injustice and make BP stand behind the promises and commitments they made to charter boats. We are not aware of any claimant who has had his/her damage payments offset and/or reduced due to payments made by BP in the Vessels of Opportunity program. We sincerely appreciate your assistance to correct this injustice. 

Sincerely, 

Bobbi M. Walker

Executive Director