As previously discussed in this blog, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), Oil Polution Act (OPA), and the Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA) protect companies like BP from liability when disasters such as the Gulf Coast Oil Spill occur. However, it appears government and public pressure may prevent BP from hiding behind these maritime immunity statutes. The above video is footage from Thursday’s Congressional Hearing on the oil spill. With many calling for a complete boycott of BP, Lamar McKay, Chairman and President of BP America, stated BP will pay all legitimate claims.
Potentially, this is good news for the fishermen, shrimpers, hotels and restaurants damaged by this disaster. Affected small business now must fight over the value of their claims, but if BP keeps it’s word, at least these businesses will not have to worry about capped damages completely precluding their claims. Hopefully, government, media, and public pressure will continue to ensure BP keeps it’s promise to pay for the harms it caused.