By Scott Spivey, Esq., a PLC
LTJG Doe v. BP – is the claim barred by the Feres Doctrine? As most service members know, generally if not by name, under the Feres doctrine, military members are barred from bringing suit against the U.S. Government for “injuries [that] arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.” The Feres doctrine originally applied only when the service member was injured by another service member. Later, it was expanded to encompass civilian employees of the government. Some government contractors have even asserted that it should be further expanded to provide “intra-military” immunity to at least some contractors. The Feres doctrine spawned from the United States government’s passage of the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act) in 1946, which was intended to be a broad waiver of the government’s sovereign immunity.
But does this apply to BP? Our position is no. BP is neither the federal government nor a military contractor under these circumstances. BP is the bad actor or Tort Feasor. Every state has their own standards for Tort Liability or “negligence.” In Louisiana, we are governed by the Louisiana Civil Code for these. Civil Code article 2315 provides in part: “Every act whatever of man that causes damage to another obliges him by whose fault it happened to repair it.” Article 2316 provides: “Every person is responsible for the damage he occasions not merely by his act, but by his negligence, his imprudence, or his want of skill.”
Generally, negligence refers to a defendant’s conduct, which falls below a legal standard established to protect others against unreasonable risks of harm. This standard is based on a defendant choosing the reasonable alternative available when the harm occurred- the reasonable man standard. (Myers v. Dronet). In Louisiana, the court generally uses the duty-risk analysis approach to determine the liability of the defendant in a tort action for negligence. In order for the defendant to be held liable for negligence, the court must find that the defendant met all of the following elements: 1.Cause-in-Fact 2.Duty 3.Scope of Protection/Limitation of Liability 4.Breach of Duty 5.Damages. Even if you do not live in Louisiana, you may still be covered under Louisiana law.
Okay – that is a lot of legal mumbo jumbo. But what it means is that an entity is liable for the damages that it causes, when it has a duty to protect the person injured from those injuries, it breaches those duties and the person is damaged. So, if LTJG suffers neurological injuries or damages that are in fact caused as a result, indirect or otherwise, of her being exposed to a hazardous chemical to clean up the spill caused by BP, it is our position that BP is liable.
However, many have questioned whether the intervening act of the US Coast Guard in employing the spill activities somehow absolves BP of liability. No – we don’t think so.
While the CG and the US Government may not be liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act pursuant to the Feres doctrine and thus BP arguably cannot bring the CG or the US Government into the suit through what is known as a third-party claim arguing that the CG chose the dispersant, that does not preclude the LTJG’s suit against BP. In our case, we are not filing a lawsuit at all. The BP Settlement Fund – that is, DEEPWATER HORIZON MEDICAL BENEFITS CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT, as Amended on May 1, 2012 states that first responders are entitled to seek compensation for medical claims. In this document, “RESPONSE ACTIVITIES shall mean the clean-up, remediation efforts, and all other responsive actions (including the use and handling of dispersants) relating to the release of oil, other hydrocarbons, and other substances from the MC252 WELL and/or the Deepwater Horizon and its appurtenances that were done under the auspices of the Unified Command, BP, or a federal, state, or local authority.”
As such, this is a claim pursuant to an agreement – which is frequently referred to as the law between the parties. This is absolutely separate from a lawsuit per se. LTJG Doe v. BP – is the claim barred by the Feres Doctrine? Short Answer – No
Hi, I’m Vince Patton, the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, and I’d like to take a minute of your time for a very important message.
Most recently, it has come to my attention via research, that many first responders who participated in the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, are suffering from a wide range of symptoms, from respiratory issues to cancer, due to exposure from oil dispersants that were used for clean-up. Such individuals, including those who served on active duty or were activated reservists that fall into this category of medical issues, may possibly qualify for compensation from set-aside funds from BP. Let me add that there is no cost to any individual who qualifies for this compensation.
There is a website, which has a short five-minute survey that you can take to determine if you may be eligible for compensation along with more detailed information.
Please go to www.bpjustice.com, or if you know someone who was involved in the clean-up, it is important that you pass this information along to them. That website again is www.bpjustice.com.
I greatly appreciate your time – and thank you for your service. SEMPER PARATUS!
The oil spill has spread to affect people from Louisiana to Florida.
Do you remember what happened on April 20, 2010?
Too many people are still suffering in the aftermath of the BP drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, while a big corporation and powerful attorneys walk away with barges of cash, ignoring the victims left behind.
This was a devastating and shameful event caused by the greed of a corporation as well as the negligence and greed of politicians, powerful attorneys and so-called administrators for those impacted by the largest single oil spill in America’s history.
BPJustice is here as a resource for people who are suffering and looking for answers. We are starting a community to support and access to resources to affected people.
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We are here to help. If you or someone you know has been personally affected, please talk to us so that we can connect you with resources that are available.
It’s outrageous that nearly 8 years later thousands of BP clean-up workers and others that filed health claims have not had their day in court. Many are sick and have died from toxic exposure. The justice system has failed to act in the best interest of the people. Meanwhile, the attorneys made hundreds of millions of dollars. On the weekend of April 20th, we come together in assembly to
Take 2 minutes and watch this BP disaster footage and listen to this man’s story. Our justice system CAN and MUST do better than this. He fought to protect all of us. Now let us fight to protect him.
For thousands of Coast Guard members who responded to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the dangers were clear — an oil platform in flames and then a hole in the seafloor spewing millions of gallons of oil. But what made many Coast Guard members truly afraid was what came after.
As the agency worked to contain the spill, airplanes swooped in low, spraying a mysterious concoction of chemicals. These oil dispersants, BP hoped, would quickly cleanup its monumental mess.
“I can tell you Coast Guard members were terrified of the concept of dispersants,” said Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz, the Coast Guard’s director of health and safety.
On the eighth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that set off the worst oil spill in U.S. history, thousands of workers BP hired to clean up its mess say exposure to oil and chemicals made them sick.
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