Articles Posted in Oil Spill Litigation

718977_big_oli_rig.jpgYesterday, Judge Barbier issued an order basically telling BP that enough is enough with their frivolous appeals. What this means is that, if you have received an Eligibility Notice that BP has appealed based upon its arguments like smoothing, etc., that the Claims Center is to promptly cut you your check because BP’s argument has already been rejected by Judge Barbier many times. It would appear that those recurrent appeals to the Appeals Panel are over, and therefore, denied.

Earlier, the Fifth Circuit denied BP’s request for emergency stay on their attempts to do an end around (by suing the Claim Administrator, Pat Juneau) on the Settlement Agreement since it is not appealable by any party.

If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, don’t hesitate to contact the Mississippi BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill lawyers at Kilpatrick & Philley at toll free (877) 856-0330.

Post #3 image. 2013-04-19.jpgU.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier decided to reject BP’s recent attempt to block the Deepwater Horizon claims administrator from handing out awards according to its formula. Though BP had claimed that Patrick Juneau, the claims administrator, was being too generous with the settlement money and may even have been paying out millions on fictitious claims, Judge Barbier remained unconvinced.

Even from the very beginning of the proceeding last week Judge Barbier appeared unsympathetic. After the hour-long hearing the judge refused to grant a temporary injunction as BP had requested, temporarily suspending the settlement payments. BP immediately moved to appeal Barbier’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Barbier was obviously frustrated by BP’s attempt to halt payments, saying he has previously upheld the claims administrator’s interpretation of the settlement agreement. Barbier also said that the latest episode marked at least the third time that his court has had to review the very same issue. Judge Barbier said he didn’t know what it would take to resolve the issue, but that he expected it to be resolved the day of the hearing and not be raised yet again.

Post #4 image. 2013-04-19.jpgThe third anniversary of the BP oil spill is tomorrow, April 20th, and much remains uncertain about the ultimate cost of the disaster. Environmental damage is still being assessed and, given the amount of oil and chemical dispersants injected into the ecosystem, it might be years before scientists truly understand the lasting damage that the Deepwater Horizon spill caused.

Financial damage would appear to be much easier to estimate, though recent court battles between BP and others have clouded the monetary picture as well. Despite three years of efforts and a signed settlement agreement that was meant to resolve a large private class action, BP still does not have a firm grasp on how much money it will be forced to pay out for the damage it caused to the Gulf Coast.

Last year BP agreed to pay $4 billion in criminal penalties to the federal government as well as an estimated $7.8 billion to settle a private class action. Since then, the number for the private settlement has ballooned upward, first to $8.5 billion and now an undetermined figure as BP says it is not able to accurately estimate the total cost of the private settlement. In addition, the company is facing continued claims by those plaintiffs not covered by last year’s settlement along with potentially $17 billion in fines over violations of the Clean Water Act.

Post #2 image. 2013-04-01.jpgAfter 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.

Post #5 image. 2013-03-18.jpgA recent move to temporarily halt the recent Gulf Coast oil spill settlement by BP highlights the concern the company has that the court-appointed administrator of the settlement, Patrick Juneau, has been handing out money to businesses that don’t actually deserve a piece of the pie.

Just last week BP filed a petition with a federal court in New Orleans arguing that hundreds of millions of dollars in fictitious losses had already been reported and that these fake claims for money could end up reaching into the billions of dollars.

BP insisted that the judge presiding over the settlement, Carl Barbier, deliver a ruling quickly to help prevent additional losses due to false claims. The filing comes only two weeks after BP issued a statement to its shareholders saying that it was no longer able to accurately estimate the cost of the recently agreed upon settlement that the company believed would initially come to around $7.8 billion. The company recently revised the estimate to $8.5 billion, but now says that the price tag would end up being “significantly higher” than initially estimated.

Post #1 image. 2013-02-18.jpgRecently released data by the supervisor of all BP Gulf Coast oil spill claims has said that both individuals and companies have received more than $2 billion through the company’s class action settlement thus far.

The claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, said industries and individuals damaged as a result of the Gulf oil spill should take comfort in knowing that claims are getting paid and that the office is busy handling and paying out many more. Juneau says his team has paid more than $1.43 billion just for those claims that were filed after the BP settlement was announced last year. Another $404 million was paid for claims that Juneau inherited after replacing the original Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which had been created to process civil damage claims. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility was set up very soon after the 2010 oil spill and, during its run, paid out more than $6 billion for the 221,300 claims it processed before the new court-supervised process was created in the summer of 2012.

The new court-supervised team has handled an equally impressive number of requests, almost a quarter of a million phone calls and just under 100,000 claims. Juneau says that of the claimants who were offered settlements, 95% have agreed to accept them. Juneau says those injured by the spill and its aftermath should interpret such a high acceptance rate as proof that the court-supervised claims process is being handled fairly and that settlement amounts accurately reflect the degree of harm suffered.

Post #3 image. 2013-01-27.jpgU.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, the judge in charge of overseeing the BP Gulf Coast oil spill litigation, has denied a request to extend the deadline for those in the commercial fishing industry to join a multi-billion dollar settlement.

The settlement with BP was meant to cover seafood-related claims from those at work in the commercial fishing industry. As of now, that portion of the larger settlement is estimated to come to $2.3 billion.

At the end of last week Judge Barbier chose to reject a motion by a plaintiffs’ lawyer from Texas who represents thousands of claimants in the class-action settlement which was only finally approved last month. A day before the deadline passed, the attorney filed a motion asking that the deadline for seafood-related losses to be filed be continued for another several months. The attorney said that there wasn’t enough time for everyone to file his or her claims given how complex the settlement was.

Post #4 image. 2013-01-27.jpgThough the BP Gulf Coast oil spill has been in the news recently given the multi-billion dollar settlement that was recently finalized, a new oil spill recently made the headlines that’s even closer to home.

According to very recent reports, two oil barges that were being pushed by a tugboat slammed into a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The accident happened early Sunday morning and caused one of the oil barges to leak crude oil into the Mississippi River.

So far, officials with the U.S. Coast Guard have said they are using a boom to try to contain the oil that is leaking into the river. Officials say that the amount of oil that has leaked from the damages boats has not yet been determined.

Post #2 image. 2013-01-03.jpgIt’s official. BP and the lead plaintiffs lawyers have won a final approval of a portion of their proposed $7.8 billion settlement. The two sides received final approval over the economic and environmental loss portions of their partial settlement of claims. This means that the agreement will resolve most individuals’ claims for economic loss and property damage related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, based in New Orleans, gave his final approval to the settlement last week after he considered objections to the agreement. The news did not come as a big surprise given that Judge Barbier had given preliminary approval to plan back in May of 2012. Barbier said that the proposed settlement sufficiently provides compensation to class members.

Barbier also reviewed a section of the settlement that was meant to cover the plaintiffs’ physical injuries related to the spill and cleanup. The agreement set aside money to provide medical monitoring of their health in the future. The settlement was reached back in March, only two days before a trial was set to begin. Though the current estimate is that the plan is worth $7.8 billion, there is no cap on claims and the numbers could rise.

Post #2 image. 2012-12-16.jpgAccording to a recent article in the Huffington Post, internal emails at BP reveal that the oil giant knew about the severity of the Gulf Coast spill weeks earlier than previously thought. BP has long said that it was prompt in disclosing to authorities and to the public exactly what it knew. The emails, however, suggest otherwise.

BP has claimed that it learned of the full extent of the massive oil spill only well after the explosion at the drilling rig. The emails indicate that the company knew almost right away that the scope of the spill was enormous.

The emails are being brought to light due to an ongoing criminal investigation regarding individual actors who may be responsible for the spill and its aftermath. One person being charged is a former engineer for BP, Kurt Mix, who has been accused of destroying evidence that showed that BP knew of the size of the spill early on.

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