Acadiana Business

BP urges judge to approve $7.8 billion settlement

by Leslie Turk

Arguing that the alternative is "all-out litigation that would last many years and have an uncertain outcome for class members," BP lawyers on Monday urged a New Orleans federal judge to approve the proposed $7.8 billion settlement.

In mid-October, Patrick Juneau, the Lafayette attorney appointed to take over the BP claims process from Kenneth Feinberg, told the Houston Chronicle he was optimistic about the fate of the massive BP settlement in the works for thousands of Gulf workers affected by the 2010 BP oil spill. The $7.8 billion partial settlement was reached in early March after thousands of coastal businesses and property owners sued over economic damages.

In an after-hours filing Monday, BP also urged the federal judge overseeing the case to approve it, arguing that the alternative is "all-out litigation that would last many years and have an uncertain outcome for class members."

"The settlement will bring full compensation to all class members, including those on the Gulf Coast, while resolving a major component of the Deepwater Horizon litigation," BP lawyers wrote in Monday's filing. Reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek:

Lawyers representing more than 13,000 spill victims have attacked the settlement, BP said in the filing. Fewer than 1,000 claimants have formally opted out of the deal so far, BP said. The objectors represent "only a small fraction of the total class members," the company said.

BP, based in London, agreed in March to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve most private plaintiffs' claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries. The settlement, reached days before a scheduled trial on liability for the 2010 spill, doesn't cover federal government claims and those of the Gulf Coast states.

In September, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell joined Mississippi and an organization representing fisheries in objecting to the settlement. Caldwell filed a brief in federal court, arguing that the cap on payments to fishers could leave the state responsible for a potential fishery collapse like the one that occurred three years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez.

Read more about Lafayette's connection to the settlement here and the full Bloomberg story here.