Editorial: Beating BP to the punch — This time, oil company getting help from an unlikely source
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Aug 12, 2013 | 2539 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite BP’s whining about how false or unfair claims are driving up the cost of its settlement with coastal communities, the dozens of cases brought by U.S. attorneys over the past 2½ years hardly amount to evidence of massive fraud one would expect to back up BP’s insistence that it is being cheated.

Now, BP is getting help from another quarter. The office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced last week that it has obtained indictments against 10 people accused of filing false claims against oil company.

It’s unclear why state prosecutors have decided to go into claims-fraud enforcement. The answer may be just as simple as Joy Patterson, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, put it. “We are prosecuting these cases because we presented violations of state law to a state grand jury and the grand jury indicted.”

Also, it seems a good move to help BP in anticipation of BP helping us. The time will come when Alabama presents BP with the bill for damages to state and local governments, and if the state has a good working relationship with the company, a settlement might be easier to reach.

It certainly can’t hurt.

Despite all the talk about lawyers encouraging people far from the Gulf Coast to file claims, all of the defendants listed in the indictments are from Mobile and Baldwin counties. Of course, proximity does not make a claim legitimate, and it doesn’t suggest it might be bogus. Each claim must be judged on its merits.

What we have here appears to be a good example of state investigators finding cause to take it to a grand jury, and the grand jury finding cause to send the case to trial.

That is how the system is supposed to work.
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