Governor Riley Responds to AG Press Conference
MONTGOMERY – Governor Bob Riley responded to Attorney General Troy King's press conference held on Friday with the following comments:
"Troy King, for reasons only he knows, tried to get me to sign a contract to give his lawyers 14 percent of everything BP pays for a disaster the company admits it is responsible for. Of the $148 million claim the state filed, King believes his lawyers should get $20 million of that right off the top. Plus, King knows that $148 million is just the tip of the iceberg of what the state will file in claims. So under his plan, lawyers will be getting tens of millions of dollars -- possibly even more -- whether or not the litigation is actually required.
"As Governor, I will make BP pay for everything it owes, but I will never sign a contract that enriches lawyers with tens of millions of dollars that instead should be going to the people of Alabama. I know he's very upset about my refusing to sign his contract and it sounds like he vented a little today.
"Litigation is time-consuming and expensive. It is the threat of litigation that brings people to the table to try to resolve disputes, not actual litigation. Lawsuits are filed when every other effort has failed. Troy King's lawsuit stopped the negotiations process cold. And if the lawyers he has hired are actually working for free, as he claims, then why does his lawsuit call for the payment of attorney fees?
"At the state's request, BP had already paid $77 million to the state before King's lawsuit was filed, and that doesn't include many millions more in reimbursements for our out-of-pocket response costs. There was every indication, based on this history, that BP would pay the $148 million claim. That was until Troy King's lawsuit got in the way.
"The facts are clear. Troy King filed this lawsuit without consulting me or local officials on our coast or apparently anyone else but the lawyers who hope to reap millions of dollars off this disaster. BP said it is not paying the state's initial claim because of his lawsuit. I've said all along, litigation should never be taken off the table. It is an option the state should consider and ultimately may exercise. But it should never have been filed before we presented our first claim, and it should never be used as a vehicle for King's lawyers to walk away with millions that should go to the people of Alabama."