Judge Leslie Southwick, appointed by President George W. Bush, ordered that BP will have to pay up under the terms of its agreement following one of the worst oil spills in US history. Southwick was fought tooth and nail by some of the Senate Democrats as well as the Progressive community back in 2007.
But in a strongly worded opinion, Judge Leslie H. Southwick ruled that the company was bound by the agreement it had signed. That deal said businesses in certain areas along the gulf that could demonstrate economic losses under an accounting formula were due payments without having to provide explicit evidence that their losses were caused by the oil spill.
“These requirements are not as protective of BP’s present concerns as might have been achievable, but they are the protections that were accepted by the parties and approved by the district court,” wrote Judge Southwick, who was joined in the result by Judge James L. Dennis.
People and businesses making claims would still have to attest that their financial losses had been caused by the spill, the judge said. But an objective formula was a rational compromise in a case with large numbers of claimants and the problem of precisely accounting for the natural ups and downs of business.BP estimates that it will have to pay out as much as $9.2 billion to resolve these claims. The ruling will be subject to appeal; one judge dissented from the ruling.
“There is nothing fundamentally unreasonable about what BP accepted but now wishes it had not,” he wrote.
Judge Edith Brown Clement wrote a forceful dissent, arguing that “causation was a critical part of the Settlement Agreement,” but that “the interpretation and implementation of the agreement eliminated this requirement” — and that “absurd results” can be expected by the court’s ruling.But the plaintiffs alleged in the filings that BP was simply reneging on its agreement to pay businesses for economic losses suffered from the spill. A judge agreed with them in a lower court ruling.
The right can talk all they want about job killing. But these sorts of disasters are the real job killers, given that a far-right judge sided with the plaintiffs in this case. Any kind of project of this nature has to be considered in light of the potential for disasters that it could cause as well as safeguards that are in place to prevent them. Failure to do so will lead to more disasters like the BP oil spill.