Contact: Katie Gommel
American Association for Justice
AAJ Press Room
AAJ: Oil Pollution Act Claims Procedures Need Reform
Washington, DC—Clarification of claims procedures under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) are needed to ensure that victims of oil spills have the right to seek full legal recourse, according to comments submitted today by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) to the U.S. Coast Guard.
OPA, as evidenced by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, creates several timing problems for those seeking justice which can prematurely eliminate their rights.
Currently, OPA does not permit settling of claims in trust funds if there is an active case of the same subject matter in the courts. This is problematic when taking the time to calculate the full extent of damages for trust fund claims while also facing statutes of limitation on court action. AAJ recommends active claims in the courts to be stayed or held in inactive status, allowing for the settlement of claims in the trust fund.
“We saw first-hand how OPA was never designed to deal with long-term, catastrophic disasters like the BP oil spill,” said AAJ President Gary M. Paul. “The environmental and economic harm caused by the oil spill is still unknown, and many claimants may not yet know the true extent of their damages.”
AAJ is also seeking clarification to OPA regulations that acceptance of a payment from the trust fund does not eliminate the right to bring claims on future damages that are not present at the time of their first claim.
AAJ’s full submitted comments can be found here.