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Local Chambers Tell Supreme Court: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Does Not Represent Our Interests in BP Case

Oct. 7, 2014

Local Chambers Tell Supreme Court: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Does Not Represent Our Interests in BP Case

Filing Highlights How U.S. Chamber Sides With Big Business Against the Interests of the Small Businesses It Pretends to Represent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Eight local chambers of commerce have filed an amicus brief (PDF) at the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not represent their interests in the U.S. Chamber’s amicus filing in a Supreme Court case related to the BP oil disaster.

On Sept. 4, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed an amicus brief on behalf of BP in the case BP Exploration and Production, Inc., et. al. v. Lake Eugenie Land & Development, Inc. et. al. The U.S. Chamber’s brief urges the Supreme Court to hear the case, in which BP is seeking to invalidate portions of a settlement agreement that it entered voluntarily.

The brief from the local chambers, filed on Oct. 6, denounces the U.S. Chamber’s filing, which it contends is antithetical to their interests, as well as core principles of contract law. The brief was filed by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, the Ascension Chamber of Commerce, the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, the St. Bernard Parish Chamber of Commerce, the River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral.

“The Chamber did not seek the input nor approval of the amici Affiliates, nor to our knowledge any Gulf coast area Affiliate, prior to filing its amicus brief,” says the local chambers’ brief. The local chambers criticize the U.S. Chamber for failing “to disclose that hundreds, and potentially thousands, of Affiliates of The Chamber and business members of those Affiliates have filed claims for business economic losses in reliance on the Settlement Agreement” that BP is challenging.

Noting that the U.S. Chamber claims to represent the interests of its members before the courts, the local chambers’ brief says, “by supporting Petitioners [BP], The Chamber does no such thing with regard to the listed amici Affiliates nor their thousands of individual business members.”

“More than 85 percent of our members are small operations with less than 25 employees,” said Jerry Maygarden, president of the Greater Pensacola Chamber. “These good people have been dramatically impacted by the disaster in the Gulf. BP entered into an agreement to provide relief with eyes wide open. They need to stop the legal shenanigans and honor their commitments.”

Added Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, which runs U.S. Chamber Watch,“The U.S. Chamber cloaks itself as the defender of small business interests, but in fact advocates on behalf of its Big Business funders. This stunning legal filing highlights one of the many ways in which the U.S. Chamber sides with Big Business – even a foreign company that has pled guilty to criminal charges – against the interests of the small businesses it pretends to represent.”

The local chambers are represented by attorney Thomas Young of the Law Office of Thomas L. Young of Tampa, Florida, and Jean Champagne of Covington, Louisiana.