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BP requests halt of claim payments

Posted on Thursday, July 25th, 2013 at 1:26 pm    

On July 16, British multinational oil and gas company BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to momentarily cease claim payments to Gulf Coast businesses and residents until after Louis Freeh of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has concluded the investigation of a deliberate misappropriation of the multibillion-dollar settlement program.

In April, Barbier refused to halt billion-dollar payments to businesses after BP contested that misinterpretations regarding the settlement have been made by him and court-appointed claims administrator Patrick Juneau. According to BP, he ordered the company to pay for “inflated and fictitious losses.”

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said it would be “impractical if not impossible” to reclaim the $73 million in weekly claim payments that the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) made during the investigation. Morrell added that BP is simply seeking a pause in the payments, saying that the company shouldn’t have to bear the burden of paying for fraudulent claims.

If you have a business or a residence that has been affected by the BP oil spill, get help making a claim for your losses from an attorney at  Williams Kherkher. Call (888) 220-0640 to talk with us about your legal options for getting the financial assistance you need.


John Eddie Williams Elected Chairman of Houston Bar Foundation

Posted on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 at 4:16 pm    

John Eddie Williams has recently been elected to the position of Chairman of the Houston Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Houston Bar Association. Founded in 1982, the Houston Bar Foundation has helped to provide Houston residents with a wide range of services. Sustained by the contributions of its supporting Fellows, the Foundation seeks to make a difference in the Houston community.

The Houston Bar Foundation supports a wide range of programs to help low-income individuals find access to legal representation and to provide education about the legal system to people in the Houston community. Among the most important of these programs are grants to the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, which provides pro bono advice and representation to indigent Houstonians; the Juvenile Justice Mock Trial program, which works with Houston area schools to teach teens about the criminal justice system; and the Historic Document Preservation Project, which aims to preserve historically significant judicial records for future generations.


Williams Kherkher Attorneys to Provide Free Legal Services to Veterans

Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2013 at 1:49 pm    

Williams Kherkher attorneys Margaret Lecocke and Margot Trevino will be volunteering their time and legal knowledge at Houston’s Veteran’s Legal Clinic on Friday, August 2nd, 2013. The clinic, which provides veterans with legal advice and assistance on a wide variety of different legal topics, ranging from child support and divorce to employment and housing issues, will be held at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Hospital, located at 2002 Holcombe.

The service that these types of legal clinics can provide to those who need it the most are often difficult to fully appreciate, and to be able to provide this help to those who have put their lives on the line in the service of their country is a privilege. The efforts of Margaret and Margot are a continuation of Williams Kherkher’s organizational dedication to giving back to their community in numerous ways.


2 California women file a lawsuit against Yaz

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 at 1:00 pm    

Two women in California filed a lawsuit against drug giant Bayer Healthcare after suffering health problems due to taking Yasmin and Yaz, a July 12 report said.

According to the lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Los Angeles, the plaintiffs accused Bayer of failing to warn the public of the health risk of using Yaz and Yasmin birth control contraceptive compared to its competitors. In the lawsuit, the two women both allegedly suffered pulmonary embolisms, while one also suffered from deep vein thrombosis after using Yasmin and Yaz.

As a result of a conclusion by the FDA, Bayer had to spend millions in campaigns to correct their previous deceptions and misleading the public.

Suffering from severe health conditions due to use of Yasmin or Yaz birth control pills can be devastating. At Williams Kherkher, our attorneys help victims of these dangerous drugs hold the pharmaceutical company responsible. So if you’ve been affected by the use of Yaz or Yasmin, call us at (888) 220-0640.


Treating Craniosynostosis

Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2013 at 5:00 pm    

Craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the skull of a baby grows abnormally due to the premature closure of one or several joints in the bones of a baby’s skull before its brain is fully formed, can only be corrected through surgery.

Depending on the case, Craniosynostosis surgery is usually done during a child’s infancy. A team of surgeons and specialists, often ones who specialize in head and face surgery, will work with a neurosurgeon to repair the skull structure and relieve the pressure on the baby’s brain. Through surgery, the brain of the baby should grow normally and his or her appearance will be improved.

Sadly, Craniosynostosis is a birth defect that has also been linked to the use of Zoloft by women during pregnancy. If you or someone you know thinks their child acquired Craniosynostosis due to the use of Zoloft, contact a lawyer at Williams Kherkher by calling (888) 220-0640. We may be able to help you pursue legal action and obtain much-needed financial compensation.


Anal atresia treatment

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 at 4:44 pm    

Unfortunately, anal atresia, or the birth defect in which there is no opening to or an obstruction of the anus, may only be corrected by surgical intervention. The exact nature of the surgery will vary depending on the severity of the anal atresia, whether it is considered low or high anal atresia.

After high anal atresia is detected in a child, a surgical incision in the large intestine and abdomen, called a colostomy, is made to temporarily provide a way to expel feces. After a couple of months, the intestine will be moved to the sphincter in the area of the anus and a hole will be made in the skin.

For low anal atresia, a surgeon will create a hole in the skin in the location where the anus is supposed to be. Additional surgery may be needed later on to reposition the path of the intestine if the hole is placed in the wrong spot.

Anal atresia is, sadly, a birth defect that is also linked to Zoloft use by mothers while they are pregnant. At Williams Kherkher, our lawyers work to help those who have unduly developed this defect. Learn how you may be able to obtain compensation by calling (888) 220-0640.


BP asks for reassessment of 2012 settlement terms

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 at 3:40 pm    

BP has been constantly complaining this year that claims administrator Patrick Juneau has been misinterpreting the terms of a 2012 settlement reached between the company and a class of claimants. Its latest attempt to review Juneau’s payouts will be heard on Monday, July 15, by an appeals court.

Under the terms of the settlement reached last year, a business will be eligible for an economic loss claim by showing proof of decreased revenue, higher expenses, or both during and/or after the oil spill, as compared with other periods.

BP said that in case of erroneous payouts, they are at a disadvantage; after all, the nature of the payments, unlike other future costs, would be “impossible” to recover through litigation.

BP has $1.7 billion left in the $20 billion pot it has set aside for paying a total of $8.2 billion of business economic loss and other compensation claims.

If you lost property or sustained other damages in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused by London-based multinational oil and gas company BP, get help from our attorneys at Williams Kherkher in filing your claim. Schedule a consultation with our team by dialing (888) 220-0640 today.


Asiana Flight 214 Crashes at San Francisco International Airport

Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2013 at 5:03 pm    

In a tragic accident occurring this past Saturday at the San Francisco International Airport, an Asiana Airlines flight inbound from Seoul crash landed after touching down tail first and short of the runway. 307 individuals were on board the Boeing 777 aircraft, of which 2 were killed and 168 were injured.

While the complete investigation of the plane crash has not yet been completed, preliminary reports appear to have eliminated mechanical failure and point to pilot error as the primary cause of the accident. Excessively low airspeed on approach led to the crew being unable to throttle forward when they attempted to abort the landing seconds before impact. In an apparent departure from normal procedure, the throttles were idling on approach, which may have led to the crew’s inability to correct course on their approach to the runway.

Pilot Lee Kang-guk was landing a Boeing 777 for the first time at SFO, although he had piloted that type of aircraft 9 times prior to this flight. Kang-guk had logged more than 10,000 flying hours and could not be considered to be in training, but was acclimating to the aircraft after having much more extensive experience flying a Boeing 747. The chief pilot was Lee Jeong-min, who has been with Asiana Airlines since 1996.

Our thoughts are with all the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones.


Jim Hart to Speak at Texas Building and Construction Trades Council State Convention

Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 at 8:36 am    

Williams Kherkher attorney Jim Hart is proud to have the opportunity to speak at the Texas Building and Construction Trades Council State Convention. Since 1941, this organization has strived to provide its members with important and relevant information regarding licensing, wages, and regulations that could affect those in the construction industry.

Jim Hart will be speaking at the convention on July 15th.


The BP Class Action Settlement Agreement and Williams Kherkher’s Success

Posted on Friday, June 28th, 2013 at 4:42 pm    

BP’s New Ad Campaign

Many of you have probably seen BP’s full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. In this ad, BP states “trial lawyers and some politicians are attempting to capitalize on this misinterpretation by encouraging the submission of thousands of claims for inflated losses, or losses that do not even exist.” The “misinterpretation” referenced in this ad is the so-called “matching” issue, which has been something we’ve addressed previously.

BP’s statements are demonstrably false and a thinly-veiled effort to intimidate the victims of the Gulf Oil Spill. BP appears to suggest that the victims of BP’s criminal acts – the very acts that directly caused the Gulf Oil Spill – are engaging in wrongful behavior by submitting claims using the rules and formulas that BP insisted were fair and reasonable. In other words, BP is complaining that the Class Action Settlement BP created is unfair to BP (even when that Settlement is being administered exactly consistent with the clear letter of the Agreement). BP apparently does not believe in the old-saying “a deal is a deal.” Try as it might, BP cannot spin the fact that it is trying to renege on its contractual obligations to the victims of the Gulf Oil Spill.

We do not disagree that it is wrong for individuals and companies to get money they don’t deserve. Ironically, that is exactly what BP is trying to do with its new ad campaign. What BP does not say in the ad is very telling: any funds that remain after the expiration of the April 22, 2014 claim deadline revert back to BP. This means that if BP is successful in intimidating victims, then BP gets to keep the money legally owed to these victims. We think that is wrong, and hope that the public will not be fooled by BP’s double-talk.

Our clients are only too aware of how difficult it is to get a claim paid. The Claims Administrator employs hundreds of lawyers and accountants (all paid by BP) who double and triple check every aspect of the claim documentation before issuing an Eligibility Notice. After that, BP has the right to appeal the Eligibility Notice. Claimants who successfully traverse this process are clearly legitimate victims that deserve to be paid.

BP Threatens to Seek Recovery of Disbursed Funds.

BP has also instructed its army of lawyers to start sending letters to certain claimants advising them that BP may attempt to seek recovery of settlement proceeds. This, as with the ad campaign, is nothing more than a baseless scare tactic.

First, the Settlement Agreement provides absolutely no mechanism that would allow BP to seek recovery of disbursed funds. In fact, the Settlement Agreement provides for the exact opposite, since by definition no claimant can obtain a payment until: (i) they have successfully traversed the Settlement Program to obtain an Eligibility Notice; (ii) they have successfully overcome any BP appeal; and (iii) they have delivered a signed Release. After the Settlement Program disburses funds that, quite simply, is the end of the process. If BP wanted to have a mechanism to recover funds, it should have negotiated for that in the Settlement.

BP’s threats are also undercut by a recent decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fifth Circuit, which will eventually hear BP’s appeal on the “matching” issue, already denied BP’s request to stay payments from the Settlement Program. If BP had a legitimate basis for its appeal the Fifth Circuit would almost certainly have granted this request. Frankly, BP’s actions smack of desperation. We will continue to disburse funds to our clients as soon as we receive them, and we do not believe that our clients should worry about BP’s empty threats. We have carefully reviewed each of BP’s arguments in support of the fanciful notion they can ignore their Settlement and try and recover money from the victims of the Oil Spill, and believe they are completely lacking in merit. We expect you will see quite a bit of media attention about this issue in the coming weeks and will keep you posted.

Comparing our Results to the National Average.

There are currently hundreds of law firms and accountants who are submitting Oil Spill claims, and it can be difficult for a client or local CPA firm to know who has been successful in getting claims paid (as opposed to just having a slick website and marketing campaign). To that end we’ve started comparing our claim performance against the national average by comparing our DWH 8127 Reports to the overall reports prepared by Claims Administrator Pat Juneau. You can download the Claims Administrator’s reports at the following link:

http://www.deepwaterhorizoneconomicsettlement.com/reporting.php

The June 11, 2013 Report provides useful statistics that allow us to compare our own results to the national averages. The Claims Administrator tracks: (i) the total number of claims submitted; (ii) how many claims received an Eligibility Notice (the notice a claimant receives when the claim has been determined to be valid and payable); (iii) how many claims received Incompleteness Notices (the notice a claimant receives when the Settlement Program needs more information to proceed); and (iv) how many claims received Denial Notices (the notice a claimant receives when the Settlement Program is denying the claim). Obviously the Denial Notice is the worst result possible, as it means the Claimant is not getting paid.

The results indicate that: (i) we have amongst the best (if not the best) results of any law firm in the country; (ii) our competition is not getting claims paid; and (iii) our competition is receiving denial notices about one-third of the time:

Claims that Receive a(n):      Eligibility Notice            Incompleteness Notice            Denial Notice
National Average                       17%                                    47%                                              34%
Our Average                                94%                                   5%                                                1%

We believe these statistics also underscore that the Settlement Program simply won’t pay inflated, fraudulent, or incomplete claims. BP’s suggestion that thousands of people are getting windfall awards is directly contrary to the actual statistics. The fact is getting a claim paid is hard work, and very few of our competitors appear to be having much luck with it.

Update on Appeals.

BP has the right to appeal any Eligibility Notice over $25,000. To date, BP has appealed 1,699 claims, of which about 20% were Individual Economic Loss (“IEL”) claims and 80% were Business Economic Loss (“BEL”) claims. As the following table of national statistics regarding claims appeals shows, overall BP has been very successful in challenging awards through the appeals process:

Claim Type                                            IEL                                           BEL
BP Prevailed                                      83%                                          50%
Claimant Prevailed                         15%                                           49%
Remanded                                          2%                                             1%

Please note that typically when BP prevails on appeal the Claimant receives no payment. In comparison, our results on appeal are dramatically better than the national average:

Claim Type                                             IEL                                            BEL
BP Prevailed                                          5%                                             0%
Claimant Prevailed                            90%                                           96%
Remanded                                            5%                                             4%

To date, we have won over 94% of our appeals and expect to continue this record (in fact, we’ve currently only lost 1 Individual Economic Loss appeal, and even on this claim the claimant still obtained a substantial award). These statistics also undercut BP’s claims that they have no protection against inflated claims. In truth, BP has had great success against our competition in the appeals process. Thus, if you have suffered either personal or professional losses due to the oil spill, find out if you are eligible to file an oil spill claim by calling Williams Kherkher at (888) 220-0640.

Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident?

Contact us today at (888) 220-0640 to get a free, confidential case evaluation.