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Deepwater Horizon and Mexico

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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.

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  • tomstickler

    OK, I’ll go first.

    It is because of disasters like Deepwater Horizon (yes, the oil bidness prefers to call it “Macondo”) that 100% of the communities on the South Carolina coast have gone on record opposing the Obama administration proposal to open the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to oil exploration and leasing for drilling and production.

    A study by yours truly and two others compares the economic impact of tourism on the SC coast to the comparatively puny profits from oil. Get yours at http://www.drilldownsc.com/#!tvo/c1sav (Click the TVO Button to access the report link)

  • Just_Dropping_By

    Interesting that class action lawsuits were only introduced to Mexico in 2010.

    It’s my understanding that the development of class action procedures was pioneered in the United States and that it took decades for it to catch on in other countries.

  • efc

    Yes. A number of countries have created or strengthened the ability to bring suits via a class action even recently. For example, in Britain. And here in the US a conservative supreme court is severely hampering the class action by empowering companies to include class action waivers in employment and consumer agreements.

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