This is certainly an effective way to get the American public on your side. Yes, paying off poor people to sign off on their rights is really a thoughtful and generous public relations gesture:
Alabama Attorney General Troy King said tonight that he has told representatives of BP Plc. that they should stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal Alabamians.
The agreements, King said, essentially require that people give up the right to sue in exchange for payment of up to $5,000.
King said BP's efforts were particularly strong in Bayou La Batre.
Close to 30 percent of Bayou La Batre residents (the so-called "Seafood Capital of America" and home to the fictional Bubba Gump shrimp in "Forrest Gump) live below the poverty line. They are people to whom $5000 is indeed a lot of money, and it's of course very kind of BP to offer them a token something for the long-term destruction of their livelihood and environment - especially after the battering they took from Hurricane Katrina. Who knew that BP was a company run by a veritable Mother Theresa?
The attorney general said he is prohibited from giving legal advice to private citizens, but added that "people need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that.
"They should seek appropriate counsel to make sure their rights are protected," King said.