"BP just stepped up to the plate and realized this project was critical to jump-starting the economy in the region," says attorney Jim Thompson from the firm of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. "There was no lawsuit filed, there were no threatening letters. BP simply saw the importance of the project and offered $37.2 million to Brett/Robinson to complete the work."
The little town of Orange Beach has a population of about 12,000 people. During the summer season, Alabama's white beaches and sparkling water draws thousands of tourists. After the oil spill, the condo sales in the Phoenix West II project crashed. "My clients are experienced, committed developers, " says Thompson. "But the project was being funded by the sales of condos. You could look down the road a long way and not see a completion date under the circumstances."
"We didn't go in rattling swords or thumping chests saying look how big and bad we are and look what we are going to do to you," says Thompson. "Instead, we just put our heads together with BP and said let's come up with a solution. "
"It is so refreshing to have a company step up and say 'look, we didn't cause all your problems, but we have a tough situation here and we are going to take the lead on it.'"
Thompson, a rock star litigation attorney who regularly steps into the ring to fight giant corporations, calls the BP settlement "an absolutely unique situation."
"It's usually a war when you go toe-to-toe with big companies," says Thompson. "We file a lawsuit, they file an answer and everybody gets mad. But that was not the case here."
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The $37.2 million coming out of BP's wallet is separate and apart from the compensation fund that was set up after the spill. "BP has shown it means to do the right thing in Alabama and it sets a tone for the other claims being made," says Thompson.
Jim Thompson is an attorney with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. Thompson has been a trial attorney for 40 years and has recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in wrongful death suits, class actions, aviation accidents and catastrophic injury cases. He was the lead counsel in a class-action suit against Microsoft on behalf of several thousand businesses and residents in the state of Florida, which resulted in a settlement of $200 million.