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Oil Blowout Irks BP Shareholders

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Montgomery, ALIn his thirty years as a litigation lawyer, Jere Beasley says the oil companies have always been the toughest, meanest, most never-say-die defendants he has ever fought in courtroom. "I have dealt with these oil companies and I have not met a good oil company yet and BP is one of the worst," Beasley says. "These companies are tough and politically influential."

Beasley's firm, which he intended to "keep small" when he started out three decades ago, now has 40 lawyers and 200 support staff. So far Beasley, Allen, Crow Methvin, Portis & Miles have filed four lawsuits against BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout and they're about to file a fifth one.

"BP has lost about 30 billion dollars in market capital since this began, or over a billion dollars a day. We think they acted recklessly and put profits over safety"
"We've had eight lawyers that have been asked to go down to the coastline and have a look. People there are really in shock and don't know what the future holds," says Beasley. "It is a sad state of affairs."

The most recent lawsuit was filed on behalf of BP's shareholders, who have lost millions of dollars since the rig blew last month. "The defendants will be BP, Transocean and Halliburton," says Beasley. "All of the shareholders have been damaged daily since the oilrig blew on April 20, and the theories of liability would be breach of fiduciary duties by their boards of directors for putting profits over safety and willful negligence by the fact they failed to abide by federal testing standards."

More specifically, the suit will allege that BP routinely cheated on its blowout preventer tests and that it failed to use available technology that could have averted the disaster that is now threatening the southern shores of the US.

Beasley expects BP and the other defendants to file a limitation action, "an old maritime law that goes back to the 1800s that puts a limit on the damages that can be awarded. I don't think it will stand, but they are going to try to file it."

This will be a huge suit, says Beasley. "BP has lost about 30 billion dollars in market capital since this began, or over a billion dollars a day. We think they acted recklessly and put profits over safety.

"These cases are going to a long haul. We do it because we believe in helping people. This is going to be hard work."

Jere Beasley is the founding partner of Beasley, Allen, Crow Methvin, Portis and Miles, based in Montgomery, Alabama. The firm has extensive expertise in a number of areas, including environmental law and pharmaceutical product liability. It holds records for the largest verdicts ever awarded in several categories, including a $12 billion verdict against Exxon for willfully underpaying natural gas royalties in the Mobile Natural Gas field. The firm has won major verdicts on behalf of clients in suits against pharmaceutical companies.

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