“We will make BP pay for the damage that it has caused,” Obama said in the address.
Obama said he is meeting today with BP’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, to direct him to “set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.”
In response, Anthony Tarricone, president of the trial lawyers’ group the American Association for Justice, said that while such a plan “may quickly and fairly compensate” some victims, others must be allowed to seek recourse in the courts.
“Many questions need to be answered before such a compensation program is formed, and we will be asking them over the days and weeks to come,” Tarricone said in a statement after Obama’s address. “Ultimately, a claims process must ensure Gulf Coast residents and businesses can be fully compensated, preserve access to the civil justice system, and hold BP and other corporations accountable for their wrongdoing.”
Tarricone said some key questions remain on issues, such as how the value of claims will be decided, whether claimants have access to courts if the compensation efforts are insufficient, and whether BO will be sufficiently punished for wrongdoing.
UPDATE: Following the meeting with Obama, BP executives have agreed to establish a $20 billion fund to satisfy claims over the next three and a half years. “The fund does not represent a cap on BP liabilities, but will be available to satisfy legitimate claims,” BP’s statement reads in part.