Claim Filing Deadline Now June 8, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an Order today refusing to hear BP’s appeal regarding the constitutionality of the BP Settlement Program. With no other legal options, BP has no choice but to live up to its promises and compensate financial victims with proven losses in the Gulf Coast region.
This ruling is validation; a blessing of the Program as a fair and accurate way for BP to compensate its victims. The BP oil spill took place on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people and triggering the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. BP has been paying claims steadily since a Stay on payments was lifted in late May of this year by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Settlement Agreement took effect in 2012, but, in attempts to lessen its financial exposure, BP began to argue that the terms were being improperly interpreted by the administrator of the settlement fund. With this ruling, the six month extension date is triggered, and therefore businesses and individuals have until June 8, 2015 in which to file a claim.
BP mounted a series of legal challenges to business economic loss claims, claiming that some businesses were being paid for losses unrelated to the spill. However, in order to qualify, all claimants must meet the specific criteria laid out in a 1,000 page Settlement Agreement BP helped to create. BP has paid $2.3 billion in BEL claims to date out of $4.25 billion in total compensation to individuals and businesses, according to Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau.
“I am happy for the businesses of the Gulf Coast whom I have come to know through this process,” said ERG Law Firm Founding Partner, Hank Didier. “These folks did not ask for the oil spill or the financial hardships it caused, and now they will finally get justice.”
Two of the lawyers representing plaintiffs, Stephen Herman and James Roy, said in a statement the court’s refusal to hear the case was “a huge victory for the Gulf and should finally put to rest BP’s two-year attack on its own settlement.”
“With its Order, the Supreme Court held — as had the lower courts — that BP must stand by its word and honor its contract,” Herman and Roy said in a written statement.
BP has estimated it will pay $9.7 billion to plaintiffs represented by the so-called plaintiffs’ steering committee, but has said this sum could grow significantly.
BP has also settled U.S. criminal charges and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines. BP was found grossly negligent by Federal Judge Carl Barbier in September, and is preparing for a trial in January over whether it should pay up to $18 billion in penalties under the U.S. Clean Water Act. It has put aside $43 billion to resolve all claims.
The case is BP Exploration and Production Inc. v. Lake Eugenie Land and Development Inc., U.S. Supreme Court, No. 14-123.