AG: BP Trying To Get Alabamians To Give Up Right To Sue Over Spill

May 3, 2010 6:56 a.m.

BP has been offering $5000 payments to residents of coastal Alabama areas, in exchange for essentially giving up their right to sue the oil giant over its deadly Gulf Coast spill, according to the state’s attorney general.

AG Troy King last night urged BP to stop the effort, and told Alabamians to be wary. “People need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that,” King said, according to the Alabama press.A spokesman for BP told a reporter that the waiver clause had now been removed from the contracts, and that the company won’t enforce it in contracts that were previously signed. But King, a Republican, isn’t satisfied. He said last night he’s still concerned that the process could strip people of their right to sue.

Sid Jackson, a Mobile-based lawyer representing a shrimper who last week filed suit against BP, claiming that the spill had already taken a financial toll on his business, told TPMmuckraker that he believed BP would be wise to back down. “I think they kind of drop-kicked that [waiver] clause into the fine print,” Jackson said. But, “I think it would backfire” if BP tried to enforce it.

“This is the same company that told the coast guard there was no leak,” Jackson added.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Fire In The Gulf: New Pictures Of The Deepwater Horizon]

BP has been hiring local fishermen to help with the effort to mitigate the impact of the spill — and has included what seems to have been a similar clause in the contracts it asked them to sign.

Spokespeople for BP and for King’s office did not immediately respond to TPMmuckraker’s requests for comment.

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