BP Oil Disaster

In the aftermath of the devastating BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, Mississippi Center for Justice organized the Gulf Justice Consortium -- a group comprised of legal services and nonprofit organizations from four Gulf states to help provide a coordinated legal response to the disaster.

The group is made up of those who share a collective expertise about the legal needs of low- and moderate-income persons in the aftermath of disasters. Together, the group began mapping out a path to justice for those hardest hit by the economic and environmental impact of the disaster, recognizing that low-income communities had been deeply affected by the economic recession, and were even more vulnerable to further perils due to the BP disaster.

Since it began, the Gulf Justice Consortium has provided legal advice and counsel to more than 6,000 individual and small business owners who needed help navigating the complex claims system. They group has worked to ensure equity in recovery, protect vulnerable communities from predatory legal practices and monitor the allocation and disbursement of resources.

Specific work includes:

  • Influencing changes to the claims system to make it more just for the communities impacted
  • Ensuring the inclusion of people whose occupations were originally deemed excluded from the process
  • Expanding the types of documentation required to demonstrate income and loss to more fairly calculate claims
  • Securing funding for Vietnamese speaking legal aid to help the large population of Vietnamese Americans process their claims

The Consortium secured initial funding from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, and is now funded directly from the settlement agreement reached with the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee. For its efforts, the Consortium was awarded the American Bar Association’s 2012 John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award. This award is presented in recognition of outstanding contributions to the equality of justice.

 

Claimants may request free legal assistance by contacting the appropriate organization in their state:

Alabama 866-456-4995, press 6 www.legalservicesalabama.org
Services provided by Legal Services Alabama

Florida  855-299-1337
Services provided by Legal Services of North Florida and North Florida Center for Equal Justice

Louisiana 504-355-0970 if you are in Orleans or Jefferson Parish. Outside those areas, call 800-310-7029. Or, e-mail your name, telephone number and a brief description of the help you are seeking to: oil.spill.info@laciviljustice.org.
Services provided by Louisiana Civil Justice Center, Louisiana Justice Institute, Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Pro Bono Project, and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

Mississippi 888-725-5423  www.mscenterforjustice.org
Services provided by Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi Center for Legal Services and Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project