After BP’s recent push to have payments to victims of the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill suspended (which we discussed here), the administrator for such payments is fighting back saying the judge in charge should throw out BP’s complaint.
The administrator, Patrick Juneau, issued a statement saying that he should be given judicial immunity from being sued over decisions he makes as part of his job paying oil spill claims. The statement was in response to a move by BP last month go have U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier issue an emergency order stopping all payments made by Juneau because the oil giant said many payments were based on either inflated or utterly fictitious claims.
BP has argued in a filing before Judge Barbier that its expected settlement costs are poised to balloon if Juneau continues making payments using his current formula. Initially, BP estimated that the class-action settlement would top out at $7.8 billion with 100,000 individual claims. However, the figure was never capped and BP has since increased that estimate to $8.5 billion and is now saying it cannot accurately forecast what it might become if such payments are allowed to continue.
At last count, there have been more than 160,000 individual claims submitted under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement. So far the administrator says a little over $1.8 billion has been paid out to victims, which has settled some 26,580 claims.
Specifically, BP is claiming that Juneau has been given too much authority in deciding payouts and that he has been collectively boosting payments to victims by many millions or even billions of dollars. BP included several examples of payments that it said were absurd and showed that the settlement system was being abused.
Today the administrator fought back, filing a document with the court saying that he should be immune from such challenges from BP. Juneau’s attorneys argue that this immunity is not for selfish reasons, but instead because it encourages him to make principled decisions without the fear of constantly being sued by unhappy parties. The filing said that even if Judge Barbier decides immunity is not called for, Juneau has still being doing his job as he was tasked and that there has been nothing that warrants a suspension of settlement payouts.
If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, don’t hesitate to contact the Mississippi BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at toll free (877) 856-0330.
Source: “BP spill claims administrator urges dismissal of lawsuit,” by Jonathan Stempel, published at Reuters.com.
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