Tuesday, May 25, 2010


From Yahoo News:

According to two surviving crew members of the Deepwater Horizon, oil workers from the rig were held in seclusion on the open water for up to two days after the April 20 explosion, while attorneys attempted to convince them to sign legal documents stating that they were unharmed by the incident. The men claim that they were forbidden from having any contact with concerned loved ones during that time, and were told they would not be able to go home until they signed the documents they were presented with.

Stephen Davis, a seven-year veteran of drilling-rig work from San Antonio, told The Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg today that he was held on a boat for 36 to 40 hours after diving into the Gulf from the burning rig and swimming to safety. Once on a crew boat, Davis said, he and the others were denied access to satellite phones or radio to get in touch with their families, many of whom were frantic to find out whether or not they were OK.

Davis' story seems to be backed up by a similar account given to NPR by another Deepwater Horizon crewmember earlier in the month. Christopher Choy, a roustabout on the rig, said that the lawyers gathered the survivors in the galley of a boat and said, "'You need to sign these. Nobody's getting off here until we get one from everybody.'

I'd heard Christopher Choy's story some time ago. From the beginning, something seemed fishy about the waivers signed so quickly, or perhaps I should say oily. Other than that, I let the stories speak for themselves. I have no words.


kishnevi said...

If that's true, BP and its lawyers are even less intelligent than they already seem to be--that amounts to legal malpractice, on the part of the lawyers.

Any waiver or agreement signed in such circumstances could be easily thrown out by a judge on grounds of duress. And there is the small matter that false imprisonment is a felony....

But I've heard of a parallel display of BP dumbness on the national news. Apparently, when BP hired local boats in the first couple of weeks to help with the cleanup, it put the agreements a clause by which the boat captain waived any and all claims against BP, including any claims resulting from the spill. According to the news report, many boat owners refused to sign, and those that did had the pertinent clause thrown out by a judge. (Unless someone was misrepresenting a standard provision that meant the boat owner waived any claims against BP from damage suffered by his vessel during the cleanup effort because of bad weather, boating accident, etc.--which would be well within the normal run of that sort of contract, and would not affect any claims of lost livelihood, etc. resulting from the oil spill.)

Paul (A.) said...

Those who are unfaithful in great things are also unfaithful in little things.

And overreaching lawyers tend to be dumb.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Kishnevi, even I know that waivers signed while being held captive are not likely to stand.

The stories of the boats and boat owners is true. An agreement was reached in which BP conceded that the company would not hold the boat owners to the conditions in the waivers.

Paul (A.), thank you for weighing in with your expert opinion. And, as I know that you are not dumb, I know that you would never overreach.