BP may not be done with paying up for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill yet, as a group of Mexican lawyers are suing the company for the damage it did to its waters.
The oil reached Mexican shores on 30 April. Hundreds of communities which rely on fishing and tourism in the worst-affected states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo have seen their livelihoods plummet. The damage is ongoing, according to the claim.
Five years on, Mexican authorities have failed to act against the company. Nor have individuals or communities directly affected by the spill so far taken any legal action.
This case is brought by Sinaloa Class Actions – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) composed of lawyers specialising in environmental disasters. It launched the legal challenge against four BP subsidiaries – two headquartered in Texas, two in Mexico – at a federal court in Mexico City on Monday.
Unlike in the US, class actions in Mexico are rare and not widely known about, as they were only introduced as a legal remedy in 2010.
The law permits class actions to be brought by NGOs in cases of serious rights violations, such as in environmental disasters.
“BP has accepted it is responsible and is paying for the damage in the US. The damage is ongoing here,” Luis Manuel Pérez de Acha, a lawyer bringing the case told the Guardian.
“The federal prosecutors could have and should have brought this case. We are only bringing it because they didn’t. Perhaps they don’t have confidence in class actions because we are still in the process of constructing case law in this area.”
Interesting that class action lawsuits were only introduced to Mexico in 2010. Here’s some background to this, which required a change to the Mexican constitution.