Don’t reward the scammers


OUR OPINION: BP needs to settle claims carefully, not just quickly

In a recent report on CBS’ 60 Minutes, BP executives told correspondent Scott Pelley that of the billions of dollars paid out in claims stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some $500 million of that is fraudulent.

Among examples BP cited: A Pontiac dealer filing a claim saying the spill cost him car sales — but the real reason he closed shop is because General Motors killed the Pontiac brand after the spill; the owner of a phone store filing for a piece of the pie even though the store burned down before the spill; and an Iceland man claiming he fell and broke a leg while filling out a BP claim form.

There is no love lost here for BP, which discovered that inadequate preparation to deal with a mile-deep drilling accident can wreak environmental and economic disaster upon this country.

It must also be said that BP made the quick decision after the spill to start paying out claims just to make the issue go away as quickly as possible.

Through this past March 31, according to BP, the company had paid out $12.9 billion to businesses, individuals and local governments. Given what was basically an unlimited money supply — if BP were a mint, it couldn’t print the cash fast enough — everyone was looking for a check.

No oil made it to the Florida Keys, but this ribbon of islands is still eligible for BP money based on tourism lost because of just the fear of oil coming here. Many businesses rightly filed for compensation.

However, it also must be said that it is highly unlikely the Keys lost so much business, and employees lost so much in salaries, because of the spill.

Certainly not $184 million worth. That’s the amount BP paid out in Monroe County as of May 2012 — and claims were still being processed.

Since the claims process changed over the years, there is no way to know how much more has been paid locally and how much more is pending.

Doubtless, some of the fraud cited by BP came from the Keys. We’ve heard more than a few stories about people who didn’t have jobs when the spill happened but then filed claims, saying they were laid off because of the spill. Or businesses that vastly overstated actual losses. Could the Keys really have lost at least $184 million?

But BP agreed to settle many claims to avoid protracted litigation and stem the unending flow of bad publicity. The company botched its drilling and emergency procedures, then may have erred in its settlement

Make no mistake: We do not defend BP. It should pay all legitimate claims — and if it ends up costing another $12.9 billion, so be it. But scammers shouldn’t be rewarded.

©2014 the Florida Keys


Read more Editorials stories from the Miami Herald

  • Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

    Filling the bench

    OUR OPINION: The selection of judges a problem in the Florida gubernatorial race

  • Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

    Black eye for the region

    OUR OPINION: Venezuela does not deserve support for Security Council seat

Florida State Prison in Starke, the department’s largest prison.

    Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

    Crime in Florida’s prisons

    OUR OPINION: Corrections secretary must push — hard — for reform

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category