Question One Answer
The plaintiffs to sue BP Oil Company for losses include firms and employees in the commercial fishing industry, charter boat operators, hotels and tourist attractions, rental property owners and other businesses in famous resort areas. The injured parties will use common law to sue for loss of earnings, loss of enjoyment or property and bereavement suffered by the family members of the 11 employees who died in the explosion. For example, claims for wrongful death and injury by the rig workers and their friends, as there are cases of possible negligence by the company to take due care for the surviving drill rig workers who suffered harm on the material day. Through common law, the individuals must be compensated for the loss suffered during the explosion and the oil spill. Moreover, the plaintiffs must claim for health complications related to chemicals intended to disperse the spilled oil. The chemicals caused headaches, nausea and throat irritation leading to health risks.
The lawsuits will be based on pollution of environment, damage to property and injury and emotional harm to individuals affected. The major obstacles for the lawsuits are that for businesses whose claims may exceed $ 5000, such claims are considered to be large loss which must go through a longer process, nevertheless, there are very many people affected by the oil spill hence there is a possibility of justice being prolonged. The amount set a side for compensation is only $ 20 billion which may not be enough to compensate everyone affected. This might be even harder with the absence of documentation which may further hold up claims as it may not be easy to ascertain most of the claims lodged against BP Oil Company (Percival et al., 2010).
The main focus must be on BP Oil Company as it forms the epicenter of the disaster. However, I would recommend that the other participants in the oil spill be equally liable to the loss and therefore must contribute to the compensation. The rig owners, rig operators and prospect lessee are liable in different ways. Transocean firm, which owned the drilling rig must be sued for selling non- standard drilling rig, Halliburton the Well contractor, for failure of carrying his professional expertise, and lastly the Cameroon international company, which made the Well’s blowout preventer that eventually failed to function as initially planned. The party’s licenses must be put on hold pending an elaborate investigations as to how they contributed to the oil spill is critically done by professional analysts. If found they had an actual contribution to the oil spill, their license of operation must be cancelled to serve as a lesson to other international firms and expertise in offering poor quality products that might pose a risk to the people and the environment.
If Halliburton the well contractor followed the right procedure in designing and building the well, the accident would not have taken place. Transocean firm was equally liable for the rigs provided as they did not meet the required standards. The Cameroun international firm did not provide high quality well blowout preventer hence leading to the accident. In all incidences, all the parties seem to have known the risks involved in the entire procedure but simply negligated their various roles and duties of care. As a lesson to other firms of the same caliber, these involved persons must be dealt with according to the law if found guilty.
It was not a smart policy decision for OPA 90 to fail to extend liability to cargo owners because, for the case of cargo owners the responsible party would comprise of the firm transporting the oil, the shipping company and the handlers of the products. This would reduce the cost of making claims especially where the claims are running into Billions of dollars. It is the duty of the shipping company to safely and carefully transport the oil products to its destination. Once the oil has been fully loaded in the vessel, it becomes the responsibility of the shipping firm, the gold coast guard and the deep water port authority. At the same time, the cargo owners who chose to transport the oil products via the sea must be well familiar of the possible risks in store. Failure to include them implies relieving them of their obligation of posing a threat to the environment. Various amendment Acts were put in place to ensure sharing of liability of loss including ‘The big Oil Bailout Prevention Act of 2010’ which stipulated the responsible parties to pay the whole total cost of the deep water Horizon pollution cleanup and pay claims to plaintiffs without any legal limitation previously given (Kiern, 2010).
The Act purports a compromise among the competing interests which depicts itself in a permutation stringent accountability of responsible parties and their constraint of accountability for certain kinds of losses. The Act must therefore be emended to incorporate, both tank vessels and non-tank vessels. This will ensure such accidents and negligence are not repeated anywhere for fear of paying up the huge losses related to negligence.
Lawrence L. Kiern, 2010, OPA 90 Complexities and Recent Legislative Developments, Maritime
Law Institute, Houston, Texas
Robert V. Percival, Christopher H. Schroeder, Alan S Miller & James P Leape, (2010),
Environmental Regulation, Case study: Liability, regulation and the Prevention and Remediation of Oil Spills, Aspen Law & Business
Order with us now