What Made John Maas Succeed Where Thousands Failed?
Purpose of This Article
John Maas, a Mississippi boat captain, is likely the only sick worker to win a lawsuit against BP following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This article examines his journey, exploring how he succeeded in a case where thousands failed.

Background of the Case
In April 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 people and releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. John Maas, a boat captain, decided to help clean up the spill, unknowingly exposing himself to harmful substances. He worked in intense heat and humidity, surrounded by oil and chemical dispersants, particularly Corexit, which was used to break up the oil. The work took a toll on his health, leading to chemically induced asthma.

BP settled thousands of claims related to economic and environmental damages. However, Maas’ journey to settlement took years, requiring immense perseverance. This is his story of grit and determination.

The Journey to Settlement
Maas’ road to justice was fraught with challenges. Initially, he signed up with a law firm but left after legal fees significantly reduced his settlement check from a class-action suit. He switched to another firm, but they couldn’t file his federal lawsuit due to paperwork issues. After hiring a third firm in Miami, he faced a disagreement and was ultimately dropped.

Taking matters into his own hands, Maas spent nine months representing himself, writing legal motions by hand. Despite his lack of formal legal training, he persisted, eventually finding a Tennessee attorney, Ken Burger, who took on his case.

How Maas Succeeded
Two crucial factors contributed to Maas’ success. First, he had expert testimony from Dr. Veena Antony, a Corexit researcher, who stated that there is no safe level of oil dispersant exposure. Second, the federal judge in Tennessee was more lenient in requiring precise proof of exposure levels, allowing Maas’ case to proceed. In 2021, the judge ordered mediation, leading to a settlement in which BP paid Maas $110,000 without admitting liability.

Insights from Attorney Julian Doby
Southport, NC Attorney Julian Doby shares his thoughts on Maas’ journey. He admires Maas’ persistence, noting that moving through the legal system without formal training is no easy task. Doby emphasizes that Maas’ case demonstrates the importance of having strong evidence and expert testimony when fighting corporate giants. It also highlights the challenges workers face when seeking compensation for illnesses caused by hazardous working conditions.

John Maas’ success in his lawsuit against BP is a testament to his determination and ingenuity. Despite numerous setbacks and a complex legal landscape, he achieved what thousands of others could not. His story underscores the need for justice for workers affected by environmental disasters and reminds us of the ongoing impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Consult with a qualified attorney for legal guidance specific to your situation.