As a mere local Central New York personal injury attorney, I really didn’t want to get into commenting on the national disaster that is the ongoing Gulf of Mexico BP oil “spill”. (I put “spill” in quotes because this word, bantered about by BP and echoed by news media, hardly seems appropriate. It is more like an underwater oil “volcano”. Take a look at the video of it here).
I don’t even want to comment about the “perfect storm” combination of cascading mistakes that led to the “spill” itself. After all, as an accident lawyer, I know all too well that big-company accidents, even cascading series of them, are all too common (because corporate cost-cutting carelessness is all too common). Nothing new here. BP, join the club of about a zillion other big corporations who have injured countless Americans with their crappy defective products!
And, heck, I don’t even feel like commenting about BP’s deliberately underestimating the extent of the “spill”. Corporate lies are just too common to push my buttons.
So what do I want to comment about? Glad you asked. Excuse my French, but what really pisses me off, what has my fingers pounding on this key board right now, is that BP HAD NO PLAN TO DEAL WITH THIS KIND OF A LEAK, NO PLAN AT ALL TO STOP IT IF IT HAPPENED!!! This hole they created at the bottom of the sea, which is spewing death to the Gulf, apparently can’t be plugged! The latest brilliant idea?: Throw “heavy mud” at it, and if that doesn’t work, knotted rope, pieces of tires and golf balls,
Golf balls? Come on! Do you think if BP had put as much money into designing a “what-if” safety device for dealing with this leak as they spent on designing drilling techniques for reaching deep sea oil they could have developed a stop-gap? Of course! But spending the money to GET the oil made them a buck, while spending the money to STOP the oil from reaping an environmental disaster didn’t. It’s that simple.
So how do we motivate corporations to develop safety devices if the profit motive isn’t there? Two answers: (1) better and stronger government regulation and (2) lawsuits. Lawsuits make them “pay” for accidents, and therefore motivate them to be safe.
And I would just love to sue these guys. Come on, somebody, bring me a case against BP! Punitive damages? No question. Maybe as the oily mess makes its way up the east coast (as some are now predicting, via the Keys), there will be some mom-and-pop beach hotel (I love representing the little guy) on the shores of Long Island that will go bust and want to bring a New York lawsuit to recover their losses.