More than twenty organizations, ranging from national civil rights groups to local grass roots community organizations, have signed on to support the proposed Gulf Coast Oil Spill Legal Liabilities and Claims Act of 2010, which would protect the legal rights of parties who have suffered financial losses or economic hardship as a result of the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon and the massive oil spill that has followed.
Introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), and co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Legal Liabilities and Claims Act of 2010 would:
*Preclude any legal releases and agreements from extinguishing or limiting tort liability for harm arising from the oil spill if the legal release or agreement was entered into under coercion or duress or was entered into in exchange for any benefit other than a settlement of pending claims;
*Preserve the Gulf Coast States' right to sue BP and other responsible parties in state court rather than risk the removal of cases to federal court, as current law provides,
*Amend the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) and preserve the Gulf States' right to sue BP and other liable parties under state law.
"None of the people who have been harmed should be denied their right to compensation because they were pressured to sign a release form when they had no way of knowing their legal rights or how much they had been harmed. Furthermore, the parties responsible for this disaster should not be able to avoid liability by coercing people into giving up their rights after they have lost their livelihoods," the letter in support of the legislation states.
"We appreciate the continuing support of Congresswoman Waters, who has been a tireless champion of the interests of Gulf Coast residents since Katrina," said Trupania W. Bonner, Executive Director, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Inc.
Click here to read the letter and see the list of organizations that have signed on.