More bad news for BP and its efforts to avoid paying injured plaintiffs across Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states the settlement money that they were promised. A federal judge in New Orleans last week ordered BP to put up another $130 million for settlement payments to cover the next three months.
BP claims that the settlement administrator, Patrick Juneau, has been approving and paying claims to individuals and businesses that are excessive. BP objected when the court administered settlement program presented the $128 million budget in July. The budget indicated that $128 million was needed to provide the money necessary to fund operations in the third quarter of this year. BP claimed that the costs were excessive and argued it should be able to suspend payments to the settlement program.
Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan overruled these objections and ordered BP to fully fund the program. In her order, Shushan also asked the claims administrator to send BP budget estimates every 60 days in the future so the oil company has more updated notice of expenses. Shushan showed little sympathy for BP, saying that the company has “unreasonably withheld” its approval of the proposed budget.
BP has launched a flurry of lawsuits in recent weeks to attack the settlement agreement it originally agreed to. Though many people might be understandably puzzled why the company is now fighting to get out of a settlement that it spent months creating and carefully scrutinizing, one reason appears to be cost overruns. Experts say that the $20 billion fund that BP set up to cover costs related to the spill has almost run out. BP reports that the entire fund is likely to be fully used up by the third quarter.
Though this does indeed sound expensive, the damage done in the largest oil spill in U.S. history justifies the costs. Running out of money is BP’s problem and does not indicate an issue with the terms of the settlement. BP needs to pay what it agreed to pay to the people hurt by their spill.
Joe Rice, a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case, recently issued a statement on BP’s action. Rice said, “It is time for BP to face the fact that it entered an agreement and it got what it wanted. It is time for BP to stop trying to take away the benefits it agreed to give the people of the Gulf Coast.” According to financial disclosures, BP made $11.6 billion in profit last year, more than enough to pay injured individuals and businesses in Mississippi the money they were promised.
If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, please don’t hesitate to contact the Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at toll free (601) 856-7800.
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