BP Sues Lawyer Over Thousands of 'Phantom' Plaintiffs
Company slams 'fraud' in oil spill case
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 18, 2013 7:33 AM CST
Crude oil is seen bubbling between roots from marsh grass along the shoreline of Bay Jimmy, which was heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Friday, Sept. 27,...   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Newser) – Three years after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP has launched a suit of its own—against a plaintiffs' lawyer who, the company says, has represented tens of thousands of "phantom" clients in the case. BP says part of its settlement over the spill, worth $2.3 billion, was calculated using figures from lawyer Mikal Watts. "The facts of this case shout fraud," says a BP rep. "Tens of thousands of Mikal Watts’ clients have proved to be phantoms," and the "false representations improperly inflated the value of potential claims" in the seafood industry, Businessweek reports.

Watts has said he was fighting for some 40,000 deckhands affected by the disaster, but half of them aren't real, according to BP, which found that 45% of their supposed social security numbers actually belonged to others, living or dead; others had made-up numbers. A lawyer for Watts says he "never committed identity theft and did not defraud BP or anyone else," and claims were reviewed by an independent body. He calls BP's move "another of a series of efforts to walk away from the settlement to which it agreed," the New York Times reports. In other BP news:

  • An exploration well off Brazil turns out not to have commercially-viable amounts of fuel; the company will write off more than $1 billion in related costs, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • But BP says it has made a major oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico, adding to a big year for the company's exploration efforts.

View 1 more image
More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
BP Sues Lawyer Over Thousands of 'Phantom' Plaintiffs is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 15 comments
Dec 19, 2013 6:48 AM CST
There was a time years ago, that when you have seen a Trademark like BP, Sears, JC Penney, Exxon, Mobil, Xerox, IBM etc., it was associated with a great feeling of quality and outstanding customer service. What to Hell happened? Where all of it went?
Dec 18, 2013 8:38 PM CST
SUE? They have some nerve! What about crap like THIS?: http://www.newser.com/story/179419/ex-bp-engineer-guilty-of-hiding-spill-evidence.html
Dec 18, 2013 1:24 PM CST
As usual, its the lawyers on both sides who are raking it in. Nothing but a bunch of parasites.