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