- What are the ethical issues in this case?
There are different ethical issues evident within the BP Oil Spill case. In the case study the main ethical issue is the impact the oil spill had on mental health of various stakeholders. Despite the significant impact of the spill on the mental health of various people, the organization responsible, British Petroleum, did not take the right measures. Therefore, other than the consequence of the oil spill on the mental health being an ethical issue, the other ethical issue is the lack of response on the same despite the fact that such consequences continue to grow (Partlett & Weaver, 2011). The BP Oil Spill affected the mental health of various individuals on the basis of financial problems and change of lives. Some of the illnesses caused by the BP Oil spill within the case include posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD), major depressions, and psychiatric disorders.
- Who are the stakeholders and how are they impacted by this situation?
In the BP Oil Spill case, there are various stakeholders. The stakeholders include the owners of the oil company (BP), the workers, and the people that live around the Gulf of Mexico. These stakeholders experienced different consequences. For instance, the owners of the British Petroleum experienced huge loss from the spill. Such loss could have caused both emotional and financial torture (Griggs, 2011). On the other hand, there are workers who lost their lives. In the process of losing their lives, the spill negatively impacted on both friends and relatives (Partlett & Weaver, 2011). The friends and relatives of the workers that died experienced both emotional and financial problems. Lastly, the people living around the Gulf Mexico were significantly affected by the oil spill. The spill negatively affected their mental health with reference to financial and emotional problems. Indeed, all the stakeholders involved in this oil spill were significantly affected.
- Do you agree with Feinberg's assertion that you have to draw the line somewhere?
Yes, Feinberg’s assertion to draw a line is right and justifiable. BP’s management confirmed that they are willing to pay for the consequences suffered as a result of the spill. In addition, the management asserts that they will take the responsibility of cleaning up the spill and making everything right (Griggs, 2011). However, Feinberg asserts that the amount set aside was inadequate to meet all the damages. Moreover, Feinberg confirms that if for instance the organization sets out to compensate people for mental anguish without considering other factors, then there is likelihood that many people will demand for the compensation (Gulfcoastdisaster.com, 2012). It is on this basis that Feinberg asserts that there is need to draw a line somewhere so that only those adversely and directly affected can be compensated adequately.
- Do you agree with Feinberg's decision rule? His expectation is that there be a signature physical injury is consistent with tort law. Does that affect your answer?
Yes, Feinberg’s decision rule is right and can be justified. The decision rule by Feinberg to come up with compensation procedures that includes amongst other aspects the protocol for emergency payments, the eligible claimants, and the procedures to other concerns such as removals and clean ups. Even though his expectation is that there be a signature physical injury that is consistent with tort law, there is still adequate evidence that Feinberg’s decision rule is effective.
- Feinberg does not have jurisdiction over claims by states and municipalities. Do you believe his assessment of the place of mental health damages should apply to their claims as well?
There is no doubt that Feinberg does not have jurisdiction over claims by states and municipalities. However, for the purposes of mental health damages, it is important to note that there should be unlimited jurisdiction (Gulfcoastdisaster.com, 2012). Therefore, in his assessment, Feinberg should consider the mental health damages within such states and municipalities. Jurisdiction should only be limited to loss of property.
- If you were responsible for determining the validity of claims, what would you do? How would you explain your reasoning? What ethical concepts or principles would guide your thinking?
Whilst determining the validity of claims, it would be necessary to ascertain the correlation between the injury and the oil spill. Whereas some people may claim that their losses were caused by the oil spill, it would be a good idea to evaluate and assess the correlation between the two before making a judgment on the validity of the claims. The reasoning and ethical principle that would guide the evaluation, assessment, and judgment would be that it is not fair to claim what is not rightfully yours. Every claimant should only claim for damages that have a common correlation with the oil spill.
Griggs, J. W. (2011). BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Energy LJ, 32, 57.
Gulfcoastdisaster.com (2012). After the BP Oil Spill: Kenneth Feinberg and the Gulf Coast Claims Fund. Retrieved on April 3, 2013 from https://www.gulfcoastdisaster.com/etc/deepwater/files/docs/GCCF%20case%20April%204%202012.pdf
Partlett, D. F., & Weaver, R. L. (2011). BP oil spill: Compensation, agency costs, and restitution. Wash. & Lee L. Rev., 68, 1341.