Following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, a sea-floor oil gusher flowed for 87 days, until it was capped in July, in what is is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The federal government estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels, much of which arrived on shores killing local fish populations and other water-dependent wildlife, destroying beaches, and eviscerating the seafood and tourism industries.
The overall economic impact of the spill has been estimated well into the tens of billions of dollars with businesses going under and tens of thousands of people losing their livelihood. The travel industry is believed to have lost $23 billion as a result. The fishing industry has been affected by as much as $2.5 billion.
The BP claims office is charged with sending notices accusing claimants as frauds. Normally, those notices have been going out in small batches daily but, according to recipients, the company sent out thousands on Wednesday night just before closing for the holiday season.
This has led to accusations that BP is attempting to bully people who likely have valid claims.
"If the goal was to scare people and get them to drop their claims, they will probably achieve that," said Tom Young, a Florida attorney whose clients received 75 of the notices Wednesday night, according to USAToday. "The timing of it is absurd, and the fact that it's a kind of Gestapo, closed-box system is outrageous. They're basically telling my clients and thousands of others, 'You might go to jail, we're not telling you why and, by the way, we're closed. Merry Christmas.'"