The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied BP’s Hail May request for its previously denied appeals to be reheard by the entire panel of appellate judges, leaving BP with possibly no further legal options to avoid paying the economic damages caused by the spill. As per a prior Order by the Court, now that the issue is resolved, claim payments are expected to resume in short order as the Stay is lifted. 8 of the panel’s 13 judges voted to deny BP’s request.
BP has tried to argue that it didn’t really mean what it said when it agreed that the objective formulas included in the Settlement Program were sufficient to prove a link between a businesses damages and the effects of the oil spill. Over the course of a year, BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee met 145 times to iron out a 1,000+ page Settlement Agreement, which was then approved by the Court on May 2, 2012. Once BP realized the magnitude of the spill’s impact on businesses, it attempted to back out of the deal. Fortunately, it seems it was too late.
The settlement agreement “is not fundamentally flawed,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick. BP agreed that claimants wouldn’t have to prove losses were caused by the spill if their losses matched mathematical formulas, the judge said. “Causation is established by certain factors set out in Exhibit 4B that the parties agreed were a sufficient indirect way to satisfy the goal of connecting a claim to BP’s conduct in the Gulf. The parties did not reject the need to establish a connection. Instead, they agree to a means for doing so that sufficiently satisfied each party’s litigation interests.”
As pointed out in a recent USA Today article, BP also gained quite a bit by agreeing to this Settlement. The article states, “They got to placate their shareholders, who were nervous about how much this was going to cost them through the years going through litigation; they got to settle their criminal and environmental fines on very favorable terms with the federal government; they got to get 100,000 residents along the gulf coast to join the settlement and forever give up their rights to sue BP in court. Each of those items is worth billions to BP.”
BP reportedly has two options: appeal to the Supreme Court (another extreme long shot), or pay the claims as agreed. On behalf of our clients, we are thankful to the Fifth Circuit Judges for standing up for Gulf Coast businesses and residents and holding BP accountable for their actions. Businesses endured the spill, struggled to stay afloat through the aftermath, and have been forced to wait and wait for justice. We are happy to say the wait is likely almost over.
While we still expect BP to try and slow the process down, the Claims Administrator is no doubt ready to see this Program kick-start and move through to the end. Now is a great time to share the good news with any additional potential clients you may know. With the additional six month window in which claims can still be filed, Fulgencio Law is eager to continue to help Florida business and individuals file claims. Contact our office now for a free consultation regarding the BO Pil Spill and how you can qualify for compensation.