Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BP Disaster: Court Rules for Claimants, Again

Instead of the stalling and cover-up BP could have done the right thing long ago by coming clean and doing what was best for the Gulf wildlife, businesses, and people, but that would have been admitting wrongdoing, and that wasn't an option for them.
A divided panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that businesses seeking money as part of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement need not prove they were directly harmed by the accident and its aftermath to collect payments. The ruling is likely to be appealed by BP to the full 5th Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court. 
The decision was immediately criticized by BP. "BP disagrees with today’s decision," said Geoff Morrell, a senior vice president for BP America. "BP had asked the court to prevent payments to business economic loss claimants whose alleged injuries are not traceable to the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. BP believes that such ... claimants are not proper class members under the terms of the settlement and is considering its appellate options." 
The Plaintiff Steering Committee, made up of attorneys representing claimants, praised the decision. "Today's ruling makes clear that BP can't rewrite the deal it agreed to," said a joint statement by lead attorneys Steven Herman and James Roy Monday's ruling is the latest in a series by two three-judge panels of the 5th Circuit concerning the way U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has overseen the approval of the settlement and its implementation by court-appointed claims administrator Patrick Juneau. Within a week of the settlement agreement's approval in early 2013, as it became clear that the claims payouts would exceed the company's original estimate of $7.8 billion, BP began questioning its application of the settlement agreement. By July, the company's estimate had risen to $9.6 billion. 
But in Monday's ruling, written by Judge Leslie Southwick with Judge James Dennis issuing a separate concurring opinion, the 5th Circuit panel agreed with Barbier's Dec. 24 opinion that the language contained in the settlement agreement and its exhibits was in line with federal court rules governing settlements in class action lawsuits. Barbier said those rules recognize that the purpose of such settlements in large damage cases is in part to reduce the expense and burden that would be involved by holding individual trials for each claimant. In the case of the oil spill, the number of claimants could easily reach 200,000.  
Barbier also ruled that BP's demand that all business claimants prove "causation" before being paid was an improper reversal of the company's original strategy in the settlement. BP asserted that the payments were improper long after the company's attorneys agreed during court proceedings that many businesses and other claimants living closest to coastal areas directly affected by the spill would be assumed to be damaged by the spill.

BP thinks they can win by holding out and appealing for how ever long it takes, but I hope they have finally met their match on this one.  Of course, they'll appeal, yet again. but this story will not die like all the people and businesses in the Gulf did because of their greed and arrogance.  What more can those people lose, after all?  Keep spending that money, boys.  I'll keep buying popcorn.

Read the rest at the link above.

And so it goes.

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