PSC Agrees to Settlement
Two years ago, as all America knows, the Gulf Coast was devastated by the worst environmental disaster in United States history. When the Deepwater Horizon drill- ing rig suffered a catastrophic explosion on April 20, 2010, 11 people died and thousands of businesses and individuals lost millions due to the oil spill’s economic impact during the tourism season. In addition, the Gulf seafood industry was brought to a standing halt. Adding insult to injury, a tremendous number of business owners and people were never compensated nor did they receive even a fraction of what they were entitled to in the claim centers set up around the Gulf Coast.
Recently, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in the MDL reached a landmark class settlement with BP that will compensate businesses and individuals throughout the Gulf Coast for losses associated with the oil spill. Under the settlement, every individual and business claim will stand on its own based on its unique losses. The settlement will pay thousands of workers in the fishing and seafood industry, as well as workers and businesses throughout the tourism and commercial business sector from Texas to Florida. In addition, property owners on the Gulf Coast will be entitled to compensation for loss of use and enjoyment of their property.
Except for the seafood harvesting sector, the settlement is uncapped—meaning that as long as a Claimant has a compensable claim, BP must pay them fully. Even for seafood harvesters, the settlement fund of $2.3 billion dwarfs the average seafood output for the entire Gulf region over the past few years.
In addition, all persons who worked in the cleanup or who live within a half mile of the Gulf Coast, and were sickened from the oil spill, will be entitled to up-front compensation, a 21-year medical consultation program, and a back-end litigation option against BP if they develop a hidden illness years later. Traditionally, toxic expo- sure cases take years to resolve. This resolution—reached in record time—is a tribute to the PSC and especially to Judge Barbier who has presided over this massive case in a fair and impartial manner. We believe the medical settlement, as well as the economic settlement, are tremendous victories for all Gulf Coast residents.
Our firm is still taking in a wide variety of claims, including those from persons and businesses that may not have filed a GCCF claim or a Short Form Joinder in the MDL. These cases include economic loss claims for a wide variety of commercial and tourism-related businesses, as well as commercial and charter fishermen, seafood processors and seafood wholesalers. In addition, our firm is helping Gulf-front property owners obtain compensation for the loss of use and enjoyment of their property as a result of the oil spill.
We believe the settlement will ultimately receive final approval by Judge Barbier. But there are certain steps that will have to take place. A hearing on the proposed settlement started on April 25th 2012, and that was the first step in the process. We are confident that preliminary approval of the settlement will be granted by Judge Barbier. Once that’s done, a fairness hearing will be scheduled for a later date. Final approval will most likely follow that hearing in fairly short order.
If you have any questions about the settlement, or would like to learn more about the types of cases our firm is still looking at, contact Samuel “Chuck” Ward at 225-330-6677 or at (866) 928-3047 or by email.