A spokesperson for BP announced only a few days ago that the settlement it reached with private plaintiffs regarding the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill could be threatened if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decides against the oil company. BP claimed that if the Court does not agree to throw out the current payment calculation being used by claims administrator Patrick Juneau it could force BP to scuttle the settlement.
BP claims that payments being made by Juneau to private businesses and individuals in Mississippi and several other Gulf Coast states are based on a misinterpretation of settlement terms. BP first took its claims to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier who has now three times refused to order Juneau to change his current method of calculating settlement payouts. BP then appealed Judge Barbier’s decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is now reviewing the case and expected to issue a decision shortly.
BP’s lead attorney, Ted Olson, announced that if the Fifth Circuit were to affirm Barbier’s decision, the settlement at issue in the case would be “rendered invalid.” Olson says that as of July 28, BP has paid out $4.2 billion in total compensation as part of the settlement. Moreover, these payments have increased quickly since the BP began its vocal challenge of the payment calculations, with an average of $119 million per week being paid by the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center in the time since July 8th.
Thankfully both Judge Barbier and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals have refused to stop the settlement payments while the company appeals its case. BP says the failure to stop payments is costing the company far more than it agreed to pay. Initially the company expected payments connected with the settlement to total $7.8 billion and now believes the cost will rise to $9.6 billion.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys have not responded kindly to the threats from BP. Many have said the oil giant had plenty of time to review the agreement that was signed last year and is only now having buyer’s remorse as costs have risen past the company’s own miscalculated estimates. Seconds thoughts are not reason enough to undo a settlement agreement and threatening to not pay victims who suffered serious damage due to BP’s actions in the Gulf has angered many.
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 Says Loss on Spill Claims Appeals Could Scuttle Settlement,” by Margaret Cronin Fisk, published at Bloomberg.com.
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