Saturday, April 28, 2012

Romney Holds Big-Money Fundraiser at N.Y. Billionaire’s Townhouse - The Daily Beast

romney-paulson-fundraiser-teaseMitt Romney attended a fundraiser hosted by John Paulson, the hedge fund man who designed and won the huge Abacus credit default swap bet against the home mortgage market.  Goldman Sachs brokered the trades and paid a $550 million settlement to the SEC, saying that they had made a "mistake".

Romney Holds Big-Money Fundraiser at N.Y. Billionaire’s Townhouse - The Daily Beast: "The Republican candidate has accepted donations from controversial hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson, but Thursday night he made their association more explicit by allowing Paulson to host a fundraiser, Ben Jacobs reports."

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Conoco, China National to Pay $360 Million for Oil Spill - Bloomberg

Conoco, China National to Pay $360 Million for Oil Spill - Bloomberg:
"China National Offshore Oil Corp. (883) and ConocoPhillips agreed to pay 2.28 billion yuan ($360 million) to resolve claims and pay for environmental programs in China’s Bohai Bay after spilling 3,000 barrels of oil and drilling mud in the area last year.
Under an agreement with the State Oceanic Administration, the two companies will pay 1.683 billion yuan for “possible impacts” on the bay’s marine environment, Houston-based ConocoPhillips said in an e-mailed statement today. Conoco, the operator of the well in the Penglai oilfield, will pay 1.09 billion yuan of that as well as 113 million yuan to “support environmental initiatives.”
China National Offshore, the nation’s largest offshore oil producer, will pay 480 million yuan for programs designed to protect the Bohai Bay, according to a statement from the State Oceanic Administration. State-owned China National Offshore, based in Beijing, owns 51 percent of the well, according to ConocoPhillips. (COP)"

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Gulf oil spill settlement should be open to those with Gulf Coast Claims Facility deals, Mississippi official says |

Mississippi A.G.Jim Hood

 Gulf oil spill settlement should be open to those with Gulf Coast Claims Facility deals, Mississippi official says |
by Mark Schleifstein - The Times Picayune
"Businesses and individuals that agreed not to sue BP in exchange for early payments from Kenneth Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility should be allowed to participate in the proposed private claims settlement with the company, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in papers filed in federal court Thursday. Hood asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to rule on motions filed by him and others more than a year ago that contend Feinberg's settlement agreements violated federal and state law by requiring victims to promise not to sue in exchange for quick payments.
The claims facility release forms "are unconscionable, contrary to public policy and entered in violation of federal and state law," he said.
Hood asked that all those who settled be allowed to at least receive payments for future damages and any increased damage payments resulting from a finding that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the result of gross negligence by BP or other parties."
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A.P.: Judge hears details of Gulf oil spill settlement

The Associated Press: Judge hears details of Gulf oil spill settlement:
by Michael Kunzelman
 "After hearing BP and a team of plaintiffs' attorneys outline the proposed deal, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said he plans to rule within a week. Barbier would hold a "fairness hearing" later this year, possibly in November, before deciding whether to give his final approval.
The proposed agreement is intended to resolve more than 100,000 claims by people and businesses who blame economic losses on the nation's worst offshore oil spill.
"This has been a very impressive effort on the part of counsel ... in terms of getting to where you all are today," Barbier said, noting the litigation over the Exxon Valdez spill took roughly 20 years to resolve. "I did not intend for this case to go on for 20 years, not with me in charge of it."
London-based BP PLC estimates it would pay about $7.8 billion to resolve these claims, but the settlement wouldn't be capped and likely would be one of the largest class-action settlements ever."

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

China National Offshore Oil Co. Q. 1 Output falls

UPDATE 1-CNOOC Q1 output falls 6.3 pct after oil spills | Reuters: "(Reuters) - CNOOC Ltd reported a 6.3 percent drop in crude oil and gas output in the first quarter after a spill shut its biggest oilfield last year, as the top Chinese offshore oil producer struggles to deliver production growth for this year.

Production totalled 79.8 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in the first three months, compared with 85.2 million boe a year earlier, CNOOC said in a statement on Tuesday.

The closure of Penglai 19-3 field in the Bohai Bay, operated by ConocoPhillips, led to production losses of 5.9 million boe for CNOOC last year. The company has yet to get government approval to reopen the oilfield in eastern China's Bohai Bay."

Monday, April 23, 2012

USDOJ: Audit of Gulf Coast Claims Facility Results in $64 Million in Additional Payments

USDOJ: Audit of Gulf Coast Claims Facility Results in $64 Million in Additional Payments:
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today released the executive summary of the report by an independent auditor of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), the facility set up to process claims in the wake of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The audit found that the GCCF claims process constituted a significant advance in disaster response.  But the audit also identified significant errors that are now being corrected by sending more than $64 million in additional payments to approximately 7,300 individuals and businesses throughout the Gulf region.
“When the Attorney General visited the Gulf last summer, he heard concerns about the GCCF and ordered an independent auditor to evaluate it,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West.  “Approximately 7,300 individuals and businesses throughout the Gulf region will now see the benefits of that action, to the tune of over $64 million in additional payments.  While there’s no question that the independent GCCF labored under extremely challenging circumstances to get a huge number of payments processed successfully, the fact that this audit has resulted in tens of millions of dollars being made available to claimants who were wrongfully denied or shortchanged underscores the importance of the audit.”

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Ken Feinberg: 'The GCCF did what it said it would do' |

Ken Feinberg: 'The GCCF did what it said it would do' | "Feinberg, 66, reflected on his work with the GCCF during an interview with the Press-Register on Friday, the day that marked the two-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Q. Have you continued to stay engaged in the claims process in any way?
A. "Not at all. I’m completely divorced from it now. For the last five weeks, I’ve been a public citizen, just observing the transition.
"I’m pleased with what I’ve seen, based strictly on the press accounts and the news releases. I note that Mr. Juneau maintained all the vendors that I used — Garden City, Brown Greer, Price Waterhouse — they’re all working, no changes. I note that, under Judge Barbier, the same methodologies and the same eligibility criteria are being used. I take quiet satisfaction in that. The fact that the transition facility is using the same people and the same methodologies is an acknowledgement of the GCCF’s success. ""

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

BP - proposed settlement agreement filed in Deepwater Horizon disaster

Update: preliminary settlement approved
Introductory slideshow HERE

BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) have filed a proposed settlement agreement and a joint motion to approve the proposed classes of economic loss and medical benefits claimants. [Documentation requirements and Compensation Frameworks are detailed in the the Exhibits to the Agreement.  The Index is HERE.]
class action economic damage complaint styled Bon Secour Fisheries, et al v. BP was filed simultaneously.  BP and the PSC explain in their joint memorandum:

"Without regard to total payout figures, the parties negotiated claims frameworks, programs, and processes, including details such  as what types of proof would be required for claimants to receive a settlement benefit, what categories of claims  would be paid, whether certain claimants would benefit from causation presumptions, and how settlement benefits would be calculated.  The negotiations were exclusively focused, from the outset, on producing claims frameworks that could be administered simply, fairly, objectively, and consistently, and, in every instance, according to the merits of the underlying claims.  The principle was two-fold:  to design claims frameworks that fit a wide array of damage categories, and, within each category, to treat like claims alike, so as to proceed with both fairness and predictability"
The Agreement and motions are available at the website of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, now operated by Patrick Juneau - the court-appointed administrator who has replaced BP's Administrator Kenneth Feinberg.  Individuals and businesses in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Texas and Florida are in the proposed economic loss class.  Seafood processors
As the map above shows there are identified economic loss Zones, with compensation generally decreasing with remoteness.  Those directly involved with  the seafood industry  - such as seafood harvesters, processors and shoreline businesses - are presumed to have suffered losses.  They will get three or four times their 2010 losses based on a `Risk Transfer Premium' which is added to the loss shown for the three month spill period in 2010. (Compared to a baseline of 2009 or three prior years average).
Rigorous documentation of lost profits (not lost revenue) is required, with exceptions and adjustments for people with inadequate records.
Businesses more remote from the shore and the spill have to prove their lost profits by more rigorous economic tests such as the V, modified V and Upturn losses. (see, e.g. Section IV - Compensation Calculation).  Businesses with losses more tangentially related to the spill also have a lower RTP.
Claims are to be paid at full value.  There is no cap - except for the `seafood compensation program ' for commercial fishermen and oystermen - claims which are capped at $2.3 billion.  Seafood processors are in the broader category of business losses - not the seafood compensation program.

Causation requirements and the compensation framework are tailored to the Loss Zone structure.  Shoreline business losses are presumptively causally related.  As one gets farther away greater losses are required to establish causation.  Depending on the nature of the business enhancements (RTP) are added to the basic 2010 loss ranging from .25 of covered losses to 3.0.  An RTP factor of 3.0 yields a recovery of four times the 2010 loss - the maximum number allowed by Kenneth Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Future losses are covered by the Risk Transfer Premium (RTP), which varies by type of business and Zone.  It is is defined In Exhibit 15, the RTP Chart :
"an RTP (risk transfer premium) shall mean the amount paid to a Claimant for any and all alleged damage, including potential future injuries, damages or losses not currently known, which may later manifest themselves or develop, arising out of, due to, resulting from, or relating in anyway to the Deepwater Horizon Incident, and any other type or category of damages claimed, including claims for punitive damages. To the extent that an RTP is to be paid to a Claimant, it shall be a factor which is multiplied with those Compensation Amounts which the Exhibits to this Agreement specify are eligible for an RTP to calculate a sum which is added to the Compensation Amount paid to the Claimant."

Medical Benefits

Compensatoin ranging from $1,300  to $60,000 for acute ocular, respiratory, ear/nose/throat, dermal, and neurophysical/neurological/odor-related  conditions detailed in a Matrix of specified physical conditions Exhibit 8 - Notice of settlement

Claims Excluded

Bodily Injury Claims;
• BP Shareholder Claims;
• Moratoria Loss Claims;
• Claims relating to menhaden (or “pogy”) fishing, processing, selling, catching, or harvesting;
• Claims for Economic Damage by Entities or Individuals based on employment in the Banking,
Gaming, Financial, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Real Estate Development,  and Defense Contractor
industries, as well as Entities selling or marketing BP-branded fuel (including jobbers and
branded dealers); and
• Claims for punitive damages against Halliburton and Transocean.
* State and U.S. government cleanup and penalty claims.  Also excluded are economic losses due to the federal drilling moratorium.  Plaintiffs steering committee members will pursue those claims, which will not be resolved until the 5th Circuit rules on that "proximate cause" or duty issue.

Patrick Juneau - court appointed

Categories of recognized economic harm claims

1.  Economic Loss
Individual Loss of Wages
Business Economic Loss
Multi-Facility Business Economic Loss
Start-Up Business Economic Loss
Failed Business Economic Loss
Failed Start-Up Business Economic Loss

2.  Property Damage
Loss of Use/Enjoyment of Real Property
Coastal Real Property Damage
Wetlands Real Property Damage
Realized Real Property Sales Loss

3.  Vessels of Opportunity Charter 
4.  Vessel Physical Damage
5.  Subsistence Damage
6.  Seafood Compensation Program

83,000 Gallons Leak Into Bohai Bay, China July 2007

Lay of the Land: Oil Spill: 83,000 Gallons Leak Into Bohai Bay, China: "Two separate incidents occurred in the Peng-Lai 19-3 oil field in Bohai Bay, China on July 4th and 17th, 2011. The first incident of seepage occurred along a natural fault line near the ConocoPhillips platform B. A containment device was put in place to stop the seep, and although a few liters of oil still slip through each day, there are booms in place to collect it as it rises to the surface. The second incident occurred near platform C during drilling operations. Oil and gas bubbles were seen on the surface about 2 miles from the seabed seep near platform B. This was the result of a suspected well blowout, and was capped 48 hours after the initial release. The well was cemented and between both incidents, 83,000 gallons of oil were released into Bohai Bay."

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Investigation: Two Years After the BP Spill, A Hidden Health Crisis Festers | The Nation

Investigation: Two Years After the BP Spill, A Hidden Health Crisis Festers | The Nation: "As information about the settlement negotiations comes to light, several critical issues are not being adequately addressed—including the human health crisis brought on by the disaster.

Many people whose health was adversely affected by the spill would be excluded. The Medical Benefits Settlement covers about 90,000 people who are qualifying cleanup workers (out of an estimated 140,000) and 110,000 coastal residents living within one-half to one mile of the coast (out of a coastal population of 21 million). Although it would cover “certain respiratory, gastrointestinal, eye, skin and neurophysiological” conditions, it excludes mental health and a host of physical ailments, including cancers, birth defects, developmental disorders and neurological disorders including dementia.

The proposed settlement provides a health outreach program and twenty-one years of health monitoring—but not healthcare. If “nonspecified” ailments occur in this time frame, the patient must sue BP and prove causality to receive a settlement. Accepting the settlement also means forgoing the right to sue BP for punitive damages."

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Big Spill, Two Years Later -

The Big Spill, Two Years Later -
 "Friday is the second anniversary of the explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and spilled upwards of five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks partly to nature’s resilience, some progress has been made. The gulf is open to fishing, beaches are mostly clean and President Obama has resurrected an ambitious oil exploration plan that he shelved immediately after the spill.

But the healing from this extraordinary act of corporate carelessness is far from complete, and there is important work to be done to minimize the chances that such a disaster will happen again. Here are central issues that remain unresolved"

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Oil Spill Commission Action

Oil Spill Commission Action: "Progress is evident in implementing safety and environmental reforms in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But progress is not universal. Congress, in particular, needs to pass legislation implementing measures only they can. This is the reading of the seven members of President Obama's national oil spill commission, who today issued their first assessment of the progress government and industry have made in implementing the commission's recommendations directed at making offshore oil drilling safer."

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Louisiana's economic recovery from BP oil spill has been quicker than expected |

Louisiana's economic recovery from BP oil spill has been quicker than expected |
by Richard Thompson - The Times Picayune
"Now, 48 months after BP's Macondo well erupted, killing 11 rig workers and causing one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, some business economists and others say that places like Houma, which touts itself as "the hub of the bayou region," and other nearby communities that rely on the offshore industry have seen a quicker recovery than they had expected, in large part due to the hundreds of millions of dollars that BP has doled out in oil spill damages since the April 2010 spill.
Kenneth Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which oversaw BP's $20 billion oil spill damages fund, paid out more than $1.9 billion to nearly 70,000 Louisiana businesses and individuals through April 11, according to its latest statistics. In total, nearly 216,000 claims were filed in the state.
A look at the numbers seems to paint a picture of relative economic health in the state. "

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Florida AG Criticized BP Settlement proposal /

beach cleanup in Pensacola, Florida in 2010

by Mark Schleifstein, The times-Picayune
"Florida's attorney general on Friday asked the federal judge overseeing a proposed settlement between private claimants and BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to delay preliminary approval of the settlement until her state and other parties have a "meaningful opportunity for review and comment." In a statement filed in New Orleans with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi said it appears the settlement includes businesses and residents only in Florida's Panhandle and west coast."

The sparse information released about the settlement by the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, which represents private claimants in the negotiations with BP, limits the settlement to four southeastern counties of Texas and the Panhandle and west coast of Florida and adjacent Gulf waters, but includes the entire states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, she said, referring to a question-and-answer memo released by the lawyers.

"This document offers no rationale as to why anyone in the entire states of Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama can claim economic damages, but Floridians and their businesses are limited to specific regions," she said.

Bondi also objected to a provision in Barbier's order setting up a transition process while the settlement negotiations are completed because it ends interim payments to individual claimants. the provision violates the Oil Pollution Act, the Florida Attorney General said.

How to Prevent Oil Spills -

How to Prevent Oil Spills - by Joe Nocera
"Money solves everything, doesn’t it?
It always has before. As Abrahm Lustgarten brilliantly recounts in his new book, “Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster,” time after time over the past 15 years, BP put profits over safety and created dangerous conditions for its workers, which resulted in serious industrial accidents that brought criminal investigations. Every time, BP wiggled out of trouble by paying money and promising to do better — and then went right back to its recidivist ways. The implicit message of Lustgarten’s book, which recounts this history in infuriating detail, is that for a multinational like BP, fines and settlements are meaningless punishments. Even a criminal conviction has very little meaning for a faceless corporation. After all, you can’t throw a company in prison."

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Workers' Compensation: Tobacco Industry Argues Against New Cigarette Warnings

Workers' Compensation: Tobacco Industry Argues Against New Cigarette Warnings:

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AALS Workshop on Torts, Environment and Disaster

June 8 -12 , 2012. Berkeley, California
Association of American Law Schools
AALS Workshop on Torts, Environment and Disaster
Why Torts Law Teachers Would Attend

Tort scholarship and tort practice has been concerned with large-scale losses since the advent of the class action. Recent 0events, such as the attacks of 9/11 and the BP oil spill, have illustrated that the tools of aggregate litigation may not be enough to handle the job of ascertaining both responsibility and compensation after a disaster.  The Torts and Compensation Law Section will take advantage of its joint meeting with the Environmental Law Section to provide a fresh look at the special problem 
that disasters pose for tort law in the 21st Century.
The topics covered by the torts portion of the joint meeting will include whether tort law should be limited in times of disasters, the role (if any) of tort principles in the design of public compensation and private settlement funds, and the relationship between tort and insurance law in times of disaster.  At the end of the program there will be a session on the incorporation of issues relating to disaster in the torts curriculum.  The program will provide torts and insurance scholars of all levels of seniority with new insights into their own research and teaching.
The Program Brochure is HERE

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Workers' Compensation: GAO Releases Report on Medicare Secondary Recovery Procedures

Workers' Compensation: GAO Releases Report on Medicare Secondary Recovery Procedures:

  • Contractor performance. Challenges related to the timeliness of the MSPRC and WCRC were identified, including significant increases in the time required to complete important tasks. CMS reported taking steps to address the challenges with each of these contractors’ performance.
  • Demand and recovery issues. Challenges were identified related to the timing of demand amounts, the cost-effectiveness of recovery efforts, and the amounts of Medicare demands from liability settlements. CMS reported taking steps to address some, but not all, of these challenges.
  • Mandatory reporting. Key challenges were identified with certain aspects of mandatory reporting: determining whether individuals are Medicare beneficiaries, supplying diagnostic codes related to individuals’ injuries, and reporting all liability settlement amounts. CMS reported taking steps to address some, but not all, of these challenges.
  • CMS guidance and communication. Key challenges were identified related to CMS guidance and communication about the MSP process, guidance on Medicare set-aside arrangements, and beneficiary rights and responsibilities. CMS has taken few steps to address these challenges
  • The GAO Report is HERE

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Clarence B. Jones: Reflections on the 44th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. King

Clarence B. Jones: Reflections on the 44th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. King
April 4, 2012
"Forty-four years ago today, my beloved friend and America's soul and conscience, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while standing on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The night before, April 3rd, 1968, during s speech at the Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ, in Memphis, he said:
"We got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountain top ... Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has it place ... I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And, I've seen the promise land. I may not get there with you. But, I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land.""
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, campaigning in Gary Indiana, said:
"I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times." 

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Bohai spill: Citizen journalism triumphs at China environmental press awards | Environment |

Citizen journalism triumphs at China environmental press awards | Environment |

Winners list for the China environmental press awards

Journalist of the year: Feng Jie, Southern Weekend
Recognised for Bohai oil spill special report, north China cities facing water supply crisis and monitoring air quality for my country.
The citizen journalist prize is a new category in the awards, which are jointly organised by the Guardian, chinadialogue and Sina, the leading Chinese web portal, with funding from the Guardian Foundation and SEE, a Chinese charitable body.
Now in its third year, the awards highlighted the gains – and continued challenges – faced by Chinese journalists. The past 12 months have showed significant progress in the efforts to improve transparency, but also major obstacles.
Internationally, the highest profile success was a campaign by journalist-turned-environmental activist Ma Jun to make Apple provide more details about pollution and labour standards violations in its supply chain.
Domestically, the biggest breakthrough is probably on air pollution. Most ofChina's cities have been plagued by smog for more than a decade, but until now the authorities have provided scant information about the pollution that caused the haze and threatens the health of millions. This changed dramatically after Chinese bloggers and journalists picked up on tweets issued from the US embassy monitoring station and other sources, with environmental authorities in Beijing starting to release more detailed pollution data earlier this year.
Feng Jie, who was named environmental journalist of the year, wrote a darkly humorous piece on the efforts of Beijing citizens to set up their own monitoring stations. In another in-depth report, she revealed how a massive oil leak into the Bohai Sea was withheld from the public by the State Oceanic Administration and drilling platform operators, CNOOC and ConocoPhillips. Reporters in the state media were ordered to keep quiet but the problem emerged via microblogs and was then confirmed by local government and corporate sources.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gulf coast businesses, homeowners will receive compensation| InjuryBoard Ft. Myers

More details of the  still confidential agreement in principle of the BP Gulf oil spill suggest that the settlement include a scope of liability far beyond what maritime law historically  allowed (fishermen, property damage and bodily injury) thanks to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and BP's desire to achieve a broad, if not a global settlement.  - GWC
BP Settles Deepwater Horizon Lawsuit, Florida Meetings Planned | InjuryBoard Ft. Myers: "The Agreement, the details of which remain confidential until certified by the court after April 16, 2012, will likely streamline the process for filing a claim. In many cases it is believed the terms of the new Agreement will result in a greater financial benefit to a claimant than what is currently offered under the existing GCCF. Among other provisions, The Agreement will provide compensation to businesses located in the affected region that suffered an economic loss. Such areas include most of the Gulf coast, from Florida to Texas.
In addition to business losses, owners of residential properties in the affected region who sold between April 21, 2010 and December 31, 2010 will be compensated a fixed percentage of their sales price. There are several other compensation provisions for other types of losses, including medical benefits, losses related to seafood harvesting, and more."

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OTHERWISE: Flaws in St. Jude Heart Defibrillator Shake the Industry -

OTHERWISE: Flaws in St. Jude Heart Defibrillator Shake the Industry -

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Friday, April 6, 2012

To Fill Out Its App Store, Microsoft Wields Its Checkbook -

To Fill Out Its App Store, Microsoft Wields Its Checkbook - P. Casey for The New York Times
 "Nowadays, cellphones are all about apps. And Microsoft is so determined to have lots of brand-name apps for its Windows Phone app store that it is willing to pay for them.
Ben Huh, of the Cheezburger Network, said Microsoft asked him to make an application.
All an app maker has to do is sign on the dotted line."

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Securities Suit Filings Continue Apace in Year's First Quarter : The D & O Diary

Securities Suit Filings Continue Apace in Year's First Quarter : The D & O Diary
by Kevin LaCroix
"On an annualized basis, the pace of securities class action lawsuit filings fir the first quarter of 2012 ran above historical averages, although the pace of filings declined compared to  the prior month in the quarter’s second and third months. Merger-related cases, which were such a significant part of 2011 filings, remained an important factor in filings in the first quarter of this year, but other pronounced 2011 filing trends diminished in the year’s first three months."

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cnooc, ConocoPhillips Agree On CNY345 Million Compensation For Bohai Bay Oil Spill

A ship moves near the platform B in Penglai 19-3 oilfield at north China's Bohai Bay, in this file photo taken on July 15, 2011. [Xinhua]Cnooc, ConocoPhillips Agree On CNY345 Million Compensation For Chinese Fisherman -Report | Fox Business: "As the operator of the north China oil field, ConocoPhillips would provide the CNY1 billion to restore loss of fishing resources in the Bohai Bay area. Separately, ConocoPhllips together with Cnooc set up a CNY350 ecology fund to help restore and preserve fishing resources, from which Cnooc will be paying CNY250 million yuan while the rest is paid by the U.S. company.

In two accidents in June last year, 3,343 barrels of oil and mud used in drilling leaked through the seafloor near platforms at the Penglai 19-3 oil, China's biggest offshore oil field, a project which is 51%-owned by Cnooc's listed unit Cnooc Ltd. (CEO) and 49% owned by the U.S. company."

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BP: U.S. hiding evidence on size of Gulf oil spill | Reuters

BP: U.S. hiding evidence on size of Gulf oil spill | Reuters: "BP Plc  has accused the U.S. government of withholding evidence that may show the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was smaller than federal officials claimed, a key issue in determining the oil company's liability."
The United States has claimed a deliberative process privilege on documents which BP argues will show that the government's estimate of 4.6 million gallons is too high.  BP hopes that evidence reducing the estimate will hep in its fight against penalties under federal law.
Magistrate Sally Shushan on October 30, 2012 ordered sampling of documents identified in privilege logs, and briefings by the parties. (Document 6151 - MDL EDLA Case 2:10-md-02179-CJB-SS)

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Port City Compensated with $54m for Bohai Oil Spill

Port City Compensated with $54m for Oil Spill: "China National Offshore Oil Corp Ltd and its partner, ConocoPhillips China, have reached an agreement with the city's government of North China's Qinhuangdao port. They will pay 345 million yuan ($54.7 million) in compensation for the Bohai Bay oil spill on the Penglai 19-3 oil field, reported Sunday.

According to the agreement, the compensation will be paid for its impact on the livelihood of the fishermen and for restoring the maritime eco-environment."

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Zadroga Benefits Proposed By NIOSH for Some Cancers

Workers' Compensation: Zadroga Benefits Proposed By NIOSH for Some Cancers:

 Causal relationship is usually the central element of occupational disease cases.  In workers compensation it is framed as "arising out of an in the course of the work".  The shorthand for that is work-related.  In tort cases it is framed as "related to the exposure" - the exposure being to a toxic substance.  The problems are factually complex because most cancers do not  signal a particular exposure but rather are diseases that occur without the "exposure" at some "background rate".  So the challenge is to identify an increased rate (above background) and then identify the exposure as a "substantial factor" in the individual case.
A mass settlement like the Ground Zero cases - or a legislated fund - like the Zadroga benefits raises these issues.
The 9/11 clean-up case settlement includes a modest cancer benefit.  Many of those claimants will be eligible for Zadroga Act benefits from the re-opened September 11 Victims Compensation Fund.  But the Special Master (Sheila Birnbaum) still has to make individual assessments.  The first question is "general causation" - does exposure to this substance cause  the disease or "increase the risk".  That is particularly problematic because the toxic mix at the disaster site cannot be replicated.  And replication is, of course, the paradigmatic experimental method of modern science. 
The reopened 9/11 Fund faces unique difficulties of proof regarding cancer claims  Historical epidemiological data is organ specific or toxin specific - not site-specific.  But the only database is the one we have -the toxic exposure estimates and health histories derived from the World Trade Center Health Program.  So the authors of the draft report of March 22, 2012 by the WTC Health Program's Scientific Advisory Committee confronted a unique circumstance.  The   National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) unit's final report  is likely to be the key determinant for the Special Master and claimants' advocates.  Their new draft report recommends that  esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, skin, lungs, kidneys and other cancers should be recognized as causally related to exposure to the dust and debris of the fallen towers of the World Trade Center. - GWC

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