On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon, an oil platform located off the coast of Venice, Louisiana, suffered a massive explosion and caught fire. The rig, owned and operated by Transocean and leased by British Petroleum (BP) LLC, sank into the Gulf two days later. Two weeks later, the damaged drilling site continued to spew thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Commercial fishing was halted around the site. Experts estimate it could take as long as three months to cap the leak.
The oil spill is creeping toward the coastline, threatening Louisiana’s fragile wetlands and the $3 billion seafood industry just as shrimping and commercial fishing season is set to begin.
This is only the latest in a series of environmental disasters that negatively affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people.
On Dec. 22, 2008, just a few days before Christmas, residents in the small, rural town of Kingston were horrified when the retaining wall of a nearby coal-fired electric generating plant failed. The coal ash spill occurred at the Tennessee Valley Authority‘s Kingston Fossil Plant. As the wall crumbled, 1.1 billion gallons of toxin-laden sludge gushed from the retention pond to cover more than 300 acres. What had been a pastoral setting was now covered with thick black sludge. The powerful flow of toxic waste knocked some houses from their foundation. Until the Deepwater Horizon explosion and sinking, this event had been called the most significant environmental disaster since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Sadly, the Gulf Coast spill is quickly overtaking that title.
Concern for environmental issues is not new to Beasley Allen. While serving as Lt. Governor for the State of Alabama, in 1971 the firm’s future founding shareholder Jere Beasley vowed to take control of pollution laws out of the hands of big utilities and special interest groups, and put it back into the hands of the average citizen.
Protection of people and their property from large corporate polluters is still our top priority. A unique feature of our growing environmental toxic tort practice is the ability to represent a large number of people harmed
by damage to their property. Our attorneys are fighting to make a difference in the lives of those threatened by environmental toxins that contaminate waterways, soil and wildlife, endangering human health and life. These toxins are man-made, usually chemicals or pollutants created by industry and either accidentally or carelessly allowed to seep or spew into the surrounding area.
These are difficult cases, but Beasley Allen is fighting to make a difference. From the largest private environmental settlement in U.S. history for PCB contamination – $700 million – to our recently affirmed $20.7 million verdict against Continental Carbon for pollution, Beasley Allen is playing a significant role in toxic tort cases.