BP Spill Settlements Top $1B So Far

Thursday, January 10, 2013 @ 04:01 PM gHale

BP has paid out over $1 billion to businesses and people who claim the oil giant’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico cost them money. The pay outs have come through the company’s class-action settlement with a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys, court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau said.

Juneau said the payments reached the $1 billion mark before the end of 2012. He also said 95 percent of claimants offered payments decided to accept them.

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“I feel this high rate of acceptance reflects the fairness of the settlement amounts as well as the fairness of the claims process,” Juneau said.

The court-supervised claims process came to life in June 2012. It replaced the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) led by Kenneth Feinberg. Juneau said an additional $404 million in claims paid out during the transition from the GCCF to his program.

The April 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo well off the southeast Louisiana coast triggered an explosion aboard the rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 workers. More than 200 million gallons of oil spilled from the well before workers were able to cap it months later.

BP estimates it will pay roughly $7.8 billion to resolve more than 100,000 claims through the settlement, which received U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s final approval last month. But the settlement does not have a cap.

Juneau said his staffers have handled more than 223,000 calls about the settlement and received more than 97,000 claims.

The deadline for people or businesses to file claim forms for the settlement’s Seafood Compensation Program is Jan. 22. BP agreed to pay $2.3 billion for seafood-related claims by commercial fishing vessel owners, captains and deckhands.

The deadline for filing all other claims is April 22, 2014.

Barbier gave preliminary approval to the agreement in May 2012. Since then, thousands of people have opted out of the deal to pursue their claims individually.

The agreement also calls for paying medical claims by cleanup workers and others who said they suffered illnesses from exposure to oil or chemicals used to disperse it.

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