Late Christmas Eve, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP’s request to change the terms of the Settlement Program they agreed to. The Program was designed jointly by BP and Class Counsel to address economic losses resulting from the 2010 oil spill. “BP’s view is not only clearly inconsistent with its previous position, it directly contradicts what it has told this court. The Court further finds that BP’s change of position was not inadvertent,” Judge Barbier said. As of December 23rd, about $3.8 billion has been paid out to over 40,000 claimants.
BP had originally predicted payments would total approximately $7.8 billion, however, as expectations started to rise, BP began disputing the terms of the Program. While most experts agree BP is experiencing buyer’s remorse and simply wants to go back on the terms originally agreed too, BP is attempting to dissuade businesses from filing valid claims through a series of misleading ads.
And, let’s be clear. The notion that any business can successfully file a claim and magically be awarded tens of thousands of dollars or more of BP money through a frivolous claim is simply untrue. There is a 1,200 page court document with complex formulas designed to discern who was economically harmed by the oil spill and who wasn’t. Businesses must meet eligibility requirements that include very specific financial patterns in order to qualify. BP itself helped craft these requirements, and deemed them “more than fair” and “reasonable” during the approval phase.
Now recognizing it caused more harm than it realized, BP is trying to dissuade businesses from filing valid claims that would meet their own criteria. Businesses shouldn’t fall prey to BP’s tactics. Instead, businesses should exercise their right to hold BP accountable for the harm it has admitted to causing. Claims must be filed before the current deadline of April 22, 2014.