Oil-Spill Attorney Lauds Process, but Says Transocean Treated Workers like 'Criminals'
An attorney with 15,000 oil-spill clients says BP's claims process has treated his injured clients "fairly and with respect." But he said Transocean and Halliburton treated their injured workers "like criminals."
Tony Buzbee said BP's Gulf Coast Claims Facility, overseen by Kenneth Feinberg, has settled almost all of his 19 personal injury claims from employees who were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. "These guys went through hell," Buzbee said in an interview. "They were forced to sit and watch the rig burn without being able to contact their families to let them know they survived. They were forced to give statements and a urine test before they could see their wives and kids. "And then Transocean cut off their pay and forced them to see a well-known, biased company doctor before Transocean would consider paying them a dime. "Feinberg, on the other hand, collected the information he needed in a respectful manner and paid these women and men fairly. "The Gulf Coast Claims Facility worked for these men and women." Buzbee estimated there are 50 personal injury cases from the rig explosion. "Remember, the choice for the workers was to go to the fund or to litigate and try to settle with their employers," Buzbee said. He said "the jury is still out" on how the Gulf Coast Claims Facility will handle his other thousands of oil-spill related claims. But when it comes to personal injury, Buzbee said, he is impressed with how fairly the process worked. "Feinberg treated the workers with respect and settled their claims fairly," Buzbee said, then added that Transocean and Halliburton treated their workers "like criminals." The Gulf Coast Claims Facility was set up with $20 billion from BP. Eleven people died in the April 20, 2010 explosion, and 17 were seriously injured. "I hope my clients can put this behind them and go about their lives," Buzbee said. Sabrina Canfield Courthouse News Service June 29, 2011 New Orleans