BP can afford to pay the settlement for a lawsuit filed against it for the Gulf oil spill—but it shouldn't have to, says Joe Nocera in the New York Times. "BP is the best example I’ve ever seen of a company that actually tried to find a better way," he writes. "Immediately after the spill, it set up a claims process to get money into victims’ hands quickly, without having to file a lawsuit." BP has already paid out $11 billion in claims. So why was it sued anyway? Because lawyers wanted to send a message, writes Nocera: "No matter how much money you are willing to pay victims, it will never be enough to keep you out of the courtroom." After all, the lawyers have their own business model to protect.
Now, he says, the people that stand to benefit are businesses that weren't actually harmed by the spill, and the lawyers themselves, who get more for every business with its hand out. "All over the Gulf, lawyers are advising clients to line up at the BP trough, and they are doing so," he writes. "But how is this righting a wrong?" Meanwhile, BP's CEO has been arguing much the same thing today, telling CNBC that its $20 billion compensation fund has been drained dry by attorneys, with just $300 million remaining. Click for Nocera's full column. (Read more BP stories.)