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Late last night, BP agreed to settle claims by the largest group of individual and corporate plaintiffs in the Deepwater Horizon case for $7.8 billion.

Judge Carl J. Barbier of Federal District Court in New Orleans issued an order late Friday night stating that the two sides “have reached an agreement on the terms of a proposed class settlement which will be submitted to the court,” and announcing that the first phase of the trial, scheduled to begin on Monday, is adjourned indefinitely while the next steps are worked out.
The two lawyers who led the plaintiffs’ steering committee, Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy, said, “This settlement will provide a full measure of compensation to hundreds of thousands — in a transparent and expeditious manner under rigorous judicial oversight.”
No surprise at all here.  There was no way BP could have possibly won this--the only question from the beginning was how long it would take to reach a settlement, and how big it would be.  

The deal doesn't include the federal government, or the numerous state and local governments along the Gulf who are also suing.  BP is still staring down the barrel of billions of dollars in civil and criminal penalties.  Indeed, the feds said just hours after the deal was announced that they are still keeping their case going.

Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said the deal with private plaintiffs leaves much to be done. “We are pleased that BP may be stepping up to address harms to individual plaintiffs, but this by no means fully addresses its responsibility for the harms it has caused,” he said.

Nothing in the Friday deal, Mr. Hornbuckle said, “compensates the public for the significant damages to its natural resources and environment, and BP has yet to pay a penalty for its violations of law.”

In a statement on Friday, he said, “Although we remain open to a fair and just settlement, we are fully prepared to try the case.”

Expect most of the state and local governments to continue their cases as well.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I plead ignorant: Was this a good settlement? (0+ / 0-)

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 03:26:25 PM PST

  •  The fines will probably make this payout (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    look puny.

    Good overview in this morning's TimesPic by Hammer:

    An overlooked federal law could make criminal charges far more costly for BP and its contractors than the looming civil trial, a former federal prosectutor said. David Uhlmann, who led the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section for seven years, said he's nearly certain that BP, Transocean and Halliburton will be charged criminally for their role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.


    Clarke complained that it's unfair to prosecute corporate officials who are under pressure to produce an estimate of a spill if their numbers turn out to be wrong. But the hushed up estimate of 82,000 barrels per day for an unobstructed hole turned out to be far closer to the estimate eventually accepted by the government of 62,000 barrels a day. BP disputes that figure.

    None of these potential criminal charges carry large fines, but Uhlmann said the tens of billions BP has set aside to pay civil penalties and economic damage claims could end up being dwarfed by criminal penalties if prosecutors seek maximum penalties under the Alternative Fines Act.

    Because the Alternative Fines Act says corporations guilty of crimes are liable for twice the damages caused by its actions, estimated economic and environmental damages totaling $15 billion to $20 billion could trigger criminal fines of $30 billion to $40 billion, Uhlmann argued.


    I don't vote in your church; don't go preaching in my government New video: "They Took the Radio"

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 04:17:21 PM PST

    •  and also: BP and others begin drilling again..... (0+ / 0-)

      This is the other shoe dropping.  Yes, one phase of the legal case is closed, but another action took place that opens up the Gulf to deepwater drilling again, and I can't help but think that these two events are connected somehow.  I don't know the particulars, so don't quote me but I'm assuming BP public relations wanted to settle the case before the moratorium on deepwater drilling was ended. It would have looked like regulators were toothless and under the corporation's influence if they had started drilling again.  (Looks are important.  The environment, not so much.)

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