New Orleans’ Court Halts Payment of BP Claims
On 20th April, 2010 one of the biggest tragedies occurred in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It is during this day that the infamous Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, commonly referred to as the BP Oil Spill occurred. It has been touted as one of the worst disasters in history of the U.S. The damage caused was immense not to mention the lives that were lost. The catastrophe attracted lots of attention; the most recent development in the case being the halting of payments of the BP claims.
Effects of the Oil Spill
The 2010 oil spill was truly devastating. The explosion and blowout that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon brought with it the death of eleven crewmen. Another seventeen individuals working on the vessel were badly injured. The fire was extinguished but two days later the Deepwater Horizon sank leaving the gaping oil well on the seabed pumping more than two million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for close to ninety days.
The oil spill had incredibly devastating effects on the environment particularly on the marine life. Miles of coastline were also affected tremendously. There are many parties looking to be compensated through the BP claims settlements.
The Deepwater Horizon settlement together with fines and cleanup costs amount to almost forty billion dollars. Many businesses and parties have come forward to make BP claims on losses accrued as a consequence of the spill. Payments were to be made a few months ago but some jaw-dropping court reversals have brought any payment of any of the BP claims screeching halt. The request made by BP for expedited considerations was granted by a New Orleans’ Judge Edith Brown in an ordered. She directed that all victims of the tragedy should respond to BP’s motion by eighth of January. Both sides are also supposed to file letters on the same day on the issue of causation.
In March 2012, BP had reached a settlement with a majority of private plaintiffs. This was just prior to the commencing of a trial on liability for the incident. The initial value of the loss as put forward by BP was $7.8 billion. However in a regulatory filing made on October 29, the cost was put at $9.2 billion.
BP has been battling with lawyers for spill victims, Barbier and Patrick Juneau, the administrator of the settlement since early last year. The controversy is primarily over an interpretation of the agreement which the oils say permits payment of claimants who cannot associate their losses to the spill.
According to BP, Juneau has gone ahead to approve millions of dollars in settlement to businesses with fictitious losses that are in no way related to the offshore spill of 2010. This is why the company contested the decision by Barbier to uphold Juneau’s interpretation by making an appeal to the New Orleans-based court in October. On the eve of Christmas, Barbier in an order said that under the settlement agreement, BP could not tie payments to direct causation. BP returned the matter to the court of appeal on the 30th of December. The oil company won favor with the judge to halt the settlement of BP claims till the 8th of January 2014.