BP drops 'ghost workers' lawsuit, will pay Gulf seafood workers additional USD 1 billion

Published on
May 5, 2016

BP has dropped a two-year-old lawsuit that sought to prevent it from paying almost USD 1 billion (EUR 877 million) in damages to seafood workers in the Gulf of Mexico that the company claimed didn’t exist.

The lawsuit stemmed from irregularities BP found in a law firm’s client list, which allegedly contained “fake names and Social Security numbers, dead people and even a dog,” according to Bloomberg. Lawyer Mikal Watts, of the firm Watts Guerra, has been indicted for fraud and his trial is scheduled for this summer.

The lawsuit would have prevented BP from paying the second half of a USD 2.3 billion (EUR 2 billion) compensation package it agreed to following the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon oil well, which spilled almost five million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of oil into the Gulf.

BP had already paid out the first half of the agreement when the alleged irregularities in Watts’ client list, which contained the names of more than 40,000 Southeast Asian immigrant fishermen and processors, were discovered. According to Bloomberg, the extra names on the rolls increased the settlement total by hundreds of millions of dollars.

BP will continue to pursue fraud claims against Watts and his law firm. A separate lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Vietnamese community in the Gulf Coast, aims to prove that most of the names listed on the disputed rolls are real, the article said.

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