Ted Frank Rule Alert: “Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act”

June 8th, 2011

I am sounding the Ted Frank (who is apparently worth high six figures!) Rule alert, as Congress has proposed naming a bill after the victims of some tragedy.

Ted wrote:

““My rule of thumb is a strong presumption that any law named after a victim is poor public policy enacted by legislators who confuse voting against a law with voting against an innocent person.”

Learn more about the “Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act.”

[It will] address elements of the current laws [deemed] “antiquated and unfair.” The bill would amend the Shipowners Liability Act of 1851, the Death on the High Seas Act of 1920 and the Jones Act of 1920 to allow broader compensation for victims of the Deepwater Horizon blast.

What’s wrong with the existing law?

A court can compensate Ms. Anderson for direct economic loss for a death that occurs on the high seas, like her husband’s estimated lifetime earnings, but not for the less tangible things like loss of care, comfort and companionship, as well as pain and suffering, that are a common part of suits concerning deaths on land.

Oh Maritime Law. Though the bill only impacts survivors of the Deep Horizon debacle, and would only permit suit in federal Court.

The new Deepwater Horizon bill only affects the specific victims of the blast, and negotiators have agreed to drop a provision that was unpopular in certain precincts of the legal community. That provision would allow those claiming death and disability to sue in state court and avoid the enormous federal action that has consolidated most of the cases related to the spill.