As the BP oil spill settlement fight continues to ramp up, reports indicate that the number of people filing claims for compensation is also on an upward trajectory. According to data released by the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, the number of claims filed against BP’s compensation fund is up 18 percent in only the last six weeks. This means the total claims filed now stands at 195,403.
Experts say the increase is surprising given that the claims payout process has been open for nearly a year and the fund will continue accepting claims until next April, meaning there is still plenty of time for injured plaintiffs to file claims and receive the money they are owed. The best guess is that plaintiffs have gotten nervous after BP’s repeated complaints about paying more than it expected in the settlement and are acting now to ensure they are not left out of the lucrative claims money.
Industry experts say the sudden increase in claims may substantially increase the amount of money BP will now have to pay in the settlement, likely by hundreds of millions of dollars. BP will also likely mention the increase as the company continues fighting about the terms of the settlement it reached with plaintiffs in 2012. BP argues the terms of the agreement are being misinterpreted by the claims administrator and that businesses who are not deserving of settlement money have been profiting due to Juneau’s formula.
So far BP’s attempt to cut off payments have been unsuccessful, with a federal judge, Carl Barbier, siding with Juneau. BP has now appealed their case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and is asking that court to intervene and prevent what it believes are unfair payments. The issue boils down to one over how losses are calculated. Under Juneau’s approach, proof of a connection to the spill to receive economic loss payments is not necessary in many cases. Instead, businesses filing an economic loss claim only need to show lower revenue, higher expenses or both, either during or after the spill compared with other periods.
Plaintiffs have understandably balked at BP’s actions, saying the oil company now regrets the deal it made and wants to unilaterally undo it. Plaintiffs point out that the language allowing such a formula was clearly contained in last year’s settlement agreement and that it is absurd to pretend that a multibillion-dollar corporate giant like BP was ill equipped to understand what they were signing.
If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, 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.
Source: “BP Oil Spill Claims Climb As They Head To Appeals Court,” by Reuters, published at HuffingtonPost.com.
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