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BP TOLD TO STOP CIRCULATING SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS WITH COASTAL ALABAMIANS (AL.COM)

May 2, 2010

By George Talbot on al.com
May 02, 2010, 8:49PM

Attorney General Troy King has asked BP to cease circulating settlement agreements among south Alabamians. Alabama Attorney General Troy King said tonight that he has told representatives of BP Plc. that they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians.

The agreements, King said, essentially require that people give up the right to sue in exchange for payment of up to $5,000.

King said BP's efforts were particularly strong in Bayou La Batre.

The attorney general said he is prohibited from giving legal advice to private citizens, but added that "people need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that.

"They should seek appropriate counsel to make sure their rights are protected," King said.

By the end of Sunday, BP aimed to sign up 500 fishing boats in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to deploy boom.

BP had distributed a contract to fishermen it was hiring that waived their right to sue BP and required confidentiality and other items, sparking protests in Louisiana and elsewhere.

Darren Beaudo, a spokesman for BP, said the waiver requirement had been stripped out, and that ones already signed would not be enforced.

"BP will not enforce any waivers that have been signed in connection with this activity," he wrote in an e-mail.

But King said late Sunday that he was still concerned that people would lose their right to sue by accepting settlements from BP of up to $5,000, as envisioned by the claim process BP has set up.

"To the best of my knowledge BP did not ask residents of Alabama to waive their legal rights in the way that has been described," Beaudo said.

(Updated at 8:48 p.m. with BP response.)

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