Photo by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images
BP says it has reached a settlement deal with businesses and individuals affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster that will cost an estimated $7.8 billion, although there’s no cap in total payments. Late Friday, the New Orleans judge in charge of the case postponed the first phase of the trial scheduled for Monday while details are worked out.
The settlement removes “one of three major litigation fronts facing the company over the biggest offshore spill in U.S. history,” notes Bloomberg. BP still has to face claims from the U.S. government, state and local governments and drilling partner companies.
BP says the settlement includes $2.3 billion to resolve claims related to the seafood industry affected by the spill and will be paid out of an existing $20 billion trust that was set up to compensate victims. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say hundreds of thousands of victims could be compensated by the settlement. “It does the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people,” they said, according to Reuters.
The settlement effectively creates two types of claims, those for economic loss and medical claims, details the Wall Street Journal. The medical claims will include providing medical consultation services for the next 21 years.
Even if the settlement is successful, BP still has to face the federal government, which “stands to recover billions of dollars in environmental fines,” notes the New York Times, “but the extent to which the Justice Department is involved in negotiations with BP is unclear.”
The Associated Press points out that people who aren’t satisfied with what BP offers them can still sue—“And many just might.” Plus the trial that was due to start Monday will likely still go ahead at some point “in order to apportion blame for the spill among BP and its fellow defendants,” notes the BBC.
Many were quick to characterize the settlement as good news for the victims, “who will see their losses compensated much more quickly than the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill,” a law professor tells Reuters.