Quote of the Day:
“The sea is the sea. The old man is the old man. The boy is the boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks, no better or no worse.” –Ernest Hemingway
TB’s been reading up on the big oil spill, like most folks I know who care about the Gulf Coast. One thing has stuck in my craw here the last couple of days. At least three articles I’ve read start off with some variation of “the sharks are circling.” “Sharks”, meaning, lawyers, folks like me.
In a way, I get where they are coming from. When you litigate for a living, you are to some people’s way of thinking prospering off the misfortune of others. It’s true. Same as its true for doctors who would find very little to do with all their clipboards if not for the sick and injured. Same as firemen who would surely grow tired of sliding down the pole and feeding that lazy dalmatian if they didn’t need to go put out fires in someone’s home that didn’t want it there. Same as hardware salesmen who are collecting for hammers and nails money that the buyer would surely rather be saving for that trip to Bora Bora some day. But no doctor I ever met was happy to see anyone get sick. No firemen are hoping to see smoke rising from a nearby neighborhood. No hardware salesman is hoping the gate on your fence falls off. But they know these misfortunes are going to occur and they know that most people can’t respond to their own problems alone. So they learn how to fix things and in exchange for the fixin’ they get paid. Same as me.
I guarantee you if I could go back in time and prevent that oil rig explosion I’d do it. If I could keep the fishermen from losing their livelihoods, the seafood joints from closing and the property values of everyone nearby from plummeting, I’d do it. But I can’t. BP could have done it if they’d operated their damn rig properly.
Now, in the midst of working to contain the damage, they have set in to motion a subtle publicity blitz aided by a willing pro-corporate media apparatus that includes shifting blame for their own malfeasance to the lawyers, like me, who are contacting those we know and offering our services to help them recover from the losses that are sure to come. Worse, they are trying to trick people. Many of the fishermen who have volunteered to help with the cleanup have been forced to sign various waivers and agreements that are to the benefit of BP. At an informational town hall meeting in Bayou Le Batre, Alabama, the company offered to settle the claims of the folks in attendance for up to $5000.00 so long as they didn’t hire lawyers. Fortunately, these scams were caught and nipped in the bud by some lawyers and those waivers will not stand; while city leaders attending the so-called informational meeting in Alabama stood up and wisely advised their fellow citizens to obtain representation before signing anything.
So let me summarize. BP’s rig blew up. People died. Oil spilled. A helluva lot of oil is continuing to spill and the company doesn’t really even know if they can stop it. One of the worst environmental disasters in history is unfolding because of their mistakes. They respond to the widespread suffering sure to be inflicted upon Coast residents by simultaneously enlisting their help and attempting to trick them into losing their rights to recover damages. And so naturally that makes lawyers the sharks.
So be it. I’d rather be a shark than a dirty rat, errr, a dead turtle errr, BP.