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Local Governments Finalize Settlements with BP

In early July 2015, BP announced that the company had reached settlements with 400+ local governments, including municipalities, counties, school boards, tax collectors and other similar entities. BP will pay these governments a combined $1 billion (with billions more going to the state governments of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas). The funds will be disbursed by no later than mid-September 2015.

The Law office of Thomas L. Young, in conjunction with our co-counsel law firm Motley Rice, represented many of these local governments, from large counties in Florida to small beachfront municipalities. We believe these settlements are in the best interest of taxpayers, as resolution of these lawsuits will avoid years – perhaps decades – of litigation, not to mention uncertainty. One need look no further than the Exxon Valdez disaster where various trials and appeals took over 25 years to resolve.

Supreme Court Denies BP’s Bid to Undo Settlement – Filing Deadline Now June 8, 2015

The decision by the United States Supreme Court saw through all the BP smoke and mirrors, denying the oil company’s petition for review, and leaving intact a landmark Settlement for the people and businesses of the Gulf Coast, arising out of the disastrous 2010 spill.

A Deal is a Deal

If anyone had any doubt about what BP intended, you only need to look at one exchange between attorney Mike Juneau, on behalf of the Claims Administrator, and BP:

On September 25, 2012, Juneau wrote to the parties to clarify the Settlement’s causation requirements:

“As to [Business Economic Loss] claims, once a claimant’s financial records satisfy the causation standards does the Settlement Agreement mandate and/or allow the Claims Administrator to separate out losses attributable to the oil spill vs. those that are not?”

Then Mr. Juneau made it clearer:

“Stated another way, once a claimant passes the causation threshold, is the claimant entitled to recovery of all losses as per the formula set out in Exhibit 4C, or is some consideration to be given so as to exclude those losses clearly unrelated to the spill?”

To make absolutely sure, Juneau posed a hypothetical situation:

“A small accounting corporation / firm is located in Zone B. They meet the ‘V-shaped curve’ causation test. The explanation for the drop in revenue is that one of the three partners went out on medical leave right around the time of the spill. Their work output, and corresponding income, thus went down by about a third. The income went back up 6 months later when the missing partner returned from medical leave.

“Applying the compensation formula under Exhibit 4C of the Settlement Agreement, the accounting firm can calculate a fairly substantial loss. Is that full loss recoverable?”

What did BP say?

Yes. “If the accurate financial data establish that the claimant satisfies the BEL causation requirement, then all losses calculated in accord with Exhibit 4C are presumed to be attributable to the Oil Spill. Nothing in the Causation Framework or Compensation Framework provides for an offset where the claimant firm’s revenue decline (and recovery, if applicable) satisfies the causation test but extraneous non-financial data indicate that the decline was attributable to a factor wholly unrelated to the Oil Spill. Such ‘false positives’ are an inevitable concomitant of an objective quantitative, data-based test.” [Letter from BP Attorney Mark Holstein to Juneau. Sept. 28, 2012]

The Supreme Court basically told BP: Enough is Enough. It’s time to live up to the promise you made to the businesses and families of the Gulf: Make It Right.

The Settlement’s standards have been affirmed by the highest court in the land. The time to file your claim is approaching. All claims must be filed by June 8, 2015 or you will forever waive your rights.

Our region’s economy was devastated by BP’s spill. Nearly 50% of all local businesses qualify for payment under the terms of the agreement, with the average claim value exceeding $100,000.

Do not assume you are not eligible. If you experienced any loss as a result of the spill, even if it was indirect,  you should hire an attorney experienced in the BP claims process to evaluate your eligibility. If you have no claim, there are no fees or costs.

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