BP has spent the better part of the past year complaining that its fund for compensating victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been rapidly depleted due to fictitious or exaggerated claims by some individuals and businesses located along the Gulf Coast. Last week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion that partially sided with the oil company, agreeing that some settlement payments should be stopped and subjected to additional scrutiny.
Earlier this year BP brought a case before District Court Judge Carl Barbier where the company argued that Barbier should change the calculation used to award settlement payouts and that all payments should be frozen to allow for such a reconsideration. BP also sued the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, over the calculation used to award payouts.
In its recent decision, the Fifth Circuit affirmed Judge Barbier’s dismissal of BP’s suit against Patrick Juneau, the settlement claims administrator. However, the Court also chose to reverse Judge Barbier’s decision affirming Juneau’s interpretation of the oil spill settlement, remanding the case back to Barbier for reconsideration. The Court said that Barbier needs to look more closely at the language of the settlement and fully investigate whether payments are being made to individuals and businesses that were not damaged by the spill.
In a 2-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the district court had exceeded its power by allowing those who have no case to recover money from the settlement fund. The Court found that Juneau’s interpretation of the accounting terms were completely disconnected from a reasonable understanding of the calculation of damages.
In its recent RIDICULOUS opinion, the Fifth Circuit ordered Judge Barbier to issue an injunction to give sufficient time for consideration of the issues raised by BP about settlement payouts. The Court said that Judge Barbier did not have authority to approve the settlement if it included members that had not sustained losses due to the oil spill. BP has said it is pleased with the recent decision and hopes it will mean that inflated or fictitious claims are rejected in the future.
Attorneys representing injured plaintiffs issued a statement after the ruling saying that they were pleased the Fifth Circuit affirmed that payments should continue to be made to the majority of claimants. The plaintiffs’ attorneys also said they were looking forward to working with the Court and the Claims Administrator to come up with the best way to process future settlement claims.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THIS RULING DOES NOT AFFECT FISHING SUBSISTENCE CLAIMS, INDIVIDUAL ECONOMIC LOSS CLAIMS AND MOST BUSINESS ECONOMIC LOSS CLAIMS!
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) 856-7800.
To read the full opinion, click here.
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Settlement Claims Administrator Fires Back Against BP’s “Unfounded Criticisms”