FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2012
Doctor Who Treated Those Made Sick by BP’s Oil Disaster
Worries Medical Settlement is Not Fair,
Will Exclude Those with Serious Symptoms
New Orleans, LA – November 7, 2012 – Dr. Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana physician who has treated over 100 clean-up workers, fishermen and Gulf Coast residents made sick by BP’s oil disaster, is concerned that documents submitted to the court regarding the proposed BP-Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) medical settlement do not address the more serious symptoms many victims are experiencing and will harm those with more significant health concerns who have chosen to opt out of the settlement. Dr. Robichaux explains,
“My patients are experiencing a host of serious chronic issues. They often present with symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, headaches, memory loss, muscular and joint pain, and extreme fatigue. The “Chronic Illnesses” listed in the BP - PSC agreement do not include any of these disorders but instead include corneal problems, respiratory disorders and skin problems that are seen far less frequently and which are far less serious.
Robichaux worries that should the medical settlement be approved based upon a limited number of documented, less serious symptoms, plaintiffs experiencing more serious health concerns could be denied adequate health care. Many plaintiffs with more significant illnesses have chosen to opt out of the settlement. Robichaux is concerned that future court proceedings will recognize only the specific symptoms documented in the medical settlement, thus limiting the ability of victims who opt out of the settlement to sue for medical treatment.
“If the BP-PSC agreement is accepted, the very serious illnesses being suffered by a large number of victims will be trivialized and these patients may lose standings in their lawsuits because of this flawed decision. BP will thus have been given a “Magic Eraser,” and will be able to use the agreement to indicate that no other serious problems ever existed.”
Since the BP disaster, Kindra Arnesen, a South Louisiana mother of two and wife of a commercial fisherman has seen the children of her community struggle with serious health concerns.
“BP has done zero for these kids, they haven’t gotten proper testing and most of the families in my community have had to rely on Medicaid and that’s something the taxpayers are paying for. It’s a gross injustice to have the taxpayers of this country foot the bill for illnesses caused by a corporation. If the people of the coast and, in fact the people of this country are going to have true justice, BP needs to pay for what they’ve caused. And we can’t make them pay until we acknowledge these illnesses exist.”
A fairness hearing on the merits of the medical portion of the settlement will be held on Thursday, November 8th in Room C501, 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans. An overflow space has been set up in room C552.
END PRESS RELEASE
LEAN has been working to document and assist individuals who have become ill as a result of the BP Oil Disaster for over 2 years. Some of their stories can be seen here: http://www.leanweb.org/our-work/community/public-health/testimonials-of-gulf-residents