Judge Overseeing BP Oil Spill Makes Move On Resuming Some Payments
In good news for people waiting on money from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement; U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has lifted a temporary pause on approving some claims for payment. However, Barbier simultaneously extended the stay on payments for those businesses whose loses were being contested by BP.
Judge Barbier issued a temporary injunction on payments late last week and said that the settlement claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, will have seven days to come up with new procedures to implement his changes regarding how business economic loss claims are decided and ultimately paid out. Barbier said the new guidelines were arrived at after reading over suggestions from BP’s lawyers and plaintiffs’ counsel, neither of whom he fully agreed with.
Barbier has said that he intends to follow the language of the original
settlement document which does not require proof that the oil spill directly
caused losses for those businesses located within a geographic area closest
to the disaster, known as Zone A, to receive settlement payments. Barbier
said that the language of the settlement agreement is clear that for these
businesses, alternative causes of losses are irrelevant if financial data
could show that a loss did indeed occur.
BP has unsurprisingly taken issue with Barbier’s recent decision. Wasting no time before complaining, a BP spokesman said that Barbier’s interpretation differed with the oil company’s. The spokesman said that while Barbier’s decision to issue an injunction is a good first step, it does not fully address the recent Fifth Circuit ruling. BP claims that the Fifth Circuit called on Barbier to halt all payments that are made without there being an injury that can be traced to the Deepwater Horizon accident. BP says that if payments to claimants who suffered no losses continue to be made then the oil giant will again appeal.
Specifically, Barbier instructed the settlement claims administrator to halt all payments until he is able to articulate an approach to ensure the claims are supported by sufficient accounting data. Juneau will only be allowed to continue paying those business economic loss payments where the matching of revenues and expenses is not an issue.
If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, please don’t hesitate to contact the Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill attorneys at Kobs & Philley at toll free (601) 863-8170.
Source: “Federal judge mandates changes to rules for business claims in BP settlement, reacting to appeals court ruling,” by Mark Schleifstein, published at NOLA.com.