LT. General Russel Honore (Ret), Mayor Timothy Kerner of Lafitte, and BP Health Victims Call for Justice for BP Clean-up Workers on Labor Day Weekend
New Orleans, La., August 31, 2018. On Labor Day weekend, LTG General Russel Honore (Ret) joined Mayor Timothy Kerner of Lafitte, cleanup workers, and family members from Louisiana and the Gulf Coast to demand Judge Carl Barbier, British Petroleum, the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC), and the Medical Claims Administrator bring justice to thousands of BP health victims. The group gathered outside of the law office of PSC member Stephan Herman of Herman, Herman and Katz.
“I did not spend decades defending my country and our institutions of democracy only to come home and watch a foreign owned company spray chemicals on our workers and not be held accountable,” said General Honore. “We spend billions of dollars defending people in places like Syria from chemical weapons but allow British Petroleum and a handful of lawyers to hijack our justice system. 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 their day in court while the lawyers make off with hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Mayor Timothy Kerner of the town of Lafitte, a fishing community in coastal Louisiana, urged anyone who worked on the oil spill or lived near the coast to take the health risks seriously. A town hall for BP health victims is scheduled for Thursday, September 6th in at the Lafitte Civic Center.
“The shrimpers and fishermen in our community need to take the BP health risk very seriously even 8 years after the spill. I urge them to come together because we are still getting sick and dying. You need to know what you can do to be proactive about protecting your health.”
A petition with over 94 thousand signatures was delivered to the Law office of Stephan Herman. “We know that the 19 attorneys on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee walked away with at least $700 million and there are credible estimates that that number is closer to $3 billion,” said Jonathan Henderson, an environmental organizer and lobbyist from New Orleans. “We know that Stephan Herman and his firm were paid at least $87 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”
“I stepped up to the plate as a citizen of Louisiana to help clean up the oil spill only to become critically ill because of the toxic chemicals,” said Luke Boudreaux. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital and even fell into a coma. I lost everything, and almost lost my life. It’s disgusting to find out the lawyers, including Stephen Herman, made over $700 million while I have received zero.”
“To reduce their first-round settlement, BP lawyers limited settlements for illness diagnosed before April 2012, said Sheree Stuart. Their argument was they would set aside settlement money for the cancers that would come years later. I call that premeditated murder. They had the opportunity to notify workers of symptoms to watch for, and setup screening, monitoring, and a medical protocol to follow so workers could avoid extensive health issues and death that hit our family like a baseball bat upside our heads. They notified no one.”
Henderson and the General pointed to these facts:
“Senate Resolution 16 adopted by the Louisiana State Senate during this year’s 2nd special session urges and requests BP to pay for medical screening, treatment and monitoring,” said Henderson. “That was a good step but it was only a resolution and not enforceable. Our government and our justice system need to do much more to hold BP’s feet to the fire.”
“I speak up this Labor Day weekend for those clean up workers and coastal residents that continue to suffer this great injustice. I call on Judge Barbier and the Medical Claims Administrator Matt Garretson to move these cases along. And I call on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee to give the money back and let’s use it to take care of these workers and families who did the real work and are suffering.
At the September 6 Town Hall in Lafitte, a new 30 minute documentary entitled Disappearing Victims and produced by Sheree Stuart and her daughter Bailey will premier.
Link to petition:
Justice for BP Health Victims
We've been working with some fellow heath victims to help produce a short documentary that anyone who worked on the BP oil spill clean-up should watch and share. Exposure to British Petroleum's toxic oil, gas, and use of Corexit causes many acute and chronic illnesses. Many chronic illnesses can take at least 8 years to show up if not sooner, depending on the person. The BP oil spill 8 year anniversary was on April 20, 2018 and has been quietly taking its unsuspecting victims down with various cancers. The question begs: Why weren't the clean-up workers notified by BP or the government of potential symptoms and what to do about it? A premier of the full 30-minute version of Disappearing Victims will be at the Civic Center in Lafitte, Louisiana in September. Details will be announced soon. Victims and families of deceased clean-up workers will be there to share their stories, answer questions. , and help determine a path forward to justice for BP's health victims. Please watch the trailer and share far and wide. Lives are at stake.
In response to Louisiana lawmakers passing Senate Resolution 16 (SR 16) earlier this year, a BP spokesperson issued a bogus response chock full with deception. SR 16 urges BP to institute medical monitoring and to publish advisory medical protocols to all Louisiana residents and clean-up workers who were exposed and/or are suffering from cancer and chronic conditions as a result of the BP Oil Spill.
BP issued this response (See our retort below):
"BP’s Medical Settlement Agreement (MSA) provided a fair, reasonable and adequate resolution for legitimate medical claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident. Among other benefits, the MSA provided qualified clean up workers and residents with access to a Periodic Medical Consultation Program that provided access to a medical provider and basic testing every three years for up to 21 years. BP also funded the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which committed $105 million to improve access to primary and specialty medical care in communities across 17 Gulf Coast counties
from Louisiana to Florida.” --Jason Ryan - director U.S. Media affairs.
What BP failed to mention is that the Periodic Medical Consultation Program (the “Program”) is only for individuals who qualified for a Specified Physical Condition claim who did not opt out of the Program when submitting their Proof of Claim Form and for those individuals who did not apply and/or qualify for a Specified Physical Condition, but who filled out a Proof of Claim Form and opted in to the Program. This means that the Program is not available to anyone who did not submit a Proof of Claim Form and only has a Later Manifested Physical Condition, a condition diagnosed after April 16, 2012. These individuals with cancer, neurological conditions, and other serious chronic conditions who did not submit a Proof of Claim Form and have only Later Manifested Physical Conditions are all excluded from this program.
The key word in this BP smoke screen is “qualified”. BP and their lawyers made becoming “qualified” a complicated legal swamp. All the while, British Petroleum, as part of their massive, multi-million dollar public relations campaign to cover their tracks and make folks believe they had fixed the Gulf, told these workers who cleaned up their colossal mess there was no need to hire or even consult a lawyer. “You’ll be paid the same and you’ll just be wasting money on legal fees”, the foreign oil giant said. Now as a result, tens of thousands of these hard working Americans are told they waived any right to the Periodic Medical Testing Program BP touts in their pithy response because they either didn’t know the first thing about the complicated forms with short-fuse deadlines that were required or they simply “checked the wrong box” on those forms.
The Program only allows for one visit every three years; those that present signs and symptoms indicative of their conditions after they have already had their scheduled visit, will not have the benefit of the Program. BP fails to mention that individuals are only provided a simple medical evaluation consisting of: a basic physical examination, as well as an occupational, medical, and work history. Individuals may undergo blood/urine tests or cardiac/respiratory test, but only at the discretion of the Program physician. The Program even warns that young children may not be provided these tests. This is neither adequate evaluation nor monitoring, nor treatment; leaving Louisiana to continue to front the bill for these horrible conditions.
Out of 27,472 Program determinations, less than 3,500 physician appointments were scheduled since 2012. Per the claims administrator’s most recent status reports, 37,226 claims for SPC or Program participation have been filed, of which only 13% were approved to participate in the Program.
As to, the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program (“Gulf Program”), it provided little to no help to class members. The Gulf Program did not pay for medical care or treatment and instead established programs like the Fussy Baby Network, to address issues largely inapplicable to class members with Later Manifested Physical Conditions. As of May 2016, all funding has been disbursed and it is unclear as to whether two years later, the Gulf Program is still existing and/or providing any medical services to residents or class members.
The Gulf Program included benefits to seventeen counties across four states out of a total of 280 counties/parishes; not even one fourth the total number of Louisiana parishes. Class members had much distrust for a BP Sponsored program. BP, you can run but you cannot hide from Justice!
Please sign our petition
The Louisiana State legislature sent a powerful message to BP regarding the ongoing health crisis caused by BP's oil and use of corexit.
This year, the Louisiana State Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 16 by State Senator J.P. Morrell which acknowledges that there are serious health issues for clean-up workers and coastal residents ad that BP should be doing more to take care of its victims. It also recognizes that BP should be footing the bill for health screening, monitoring and treatment and not the taxpayers. This is an important step in the ongoing fight to hold BP accountable for sickening untold thousands of people.
You can read the resolution in its entirety below, and please don't forget to sign and share our petition.
...8 years later...
Eight years since the start of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster, thousands of clean-up workers, first responders and coastal residents are suffering from the health impacts from exposure to BP's toxic oil, gases and dispersants, --resulting in the onset of acute and chronic illnesses including many kinds of cancers. Many are suffering, many have died. To make matters worse, only 20% of over 37,000 people impacted who submitted a health impact claim received only the minimum compensation--$1300. This is a travesty of justice. The remaining 80% of cases are stalled in court waiting to have their claims heard. More claims will be filed. More people will die. People need to get tested, screened and treated for chronic illnesses immediately.
NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT. THAT'S WHY WE LAUNCHED THIS CAMPAIGN.