The following is a letter from Partner Wesley J. Farrell on the settlement reached between the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee and BP:
March 5, 2012
To Whom It May Concern,
On March 2, 2012, the eve of a federal trial, BP agreed to a class action settlement of certain BP Oil Spill related claims with the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which represented the interests of affected individuals and businesses throughout the Gulf Region in pending litigation. Although the settlement does not resolve all claims, it is a major “first step” towards that objective.
The settlement ushers in certain major changes to the oil spill compensation-recovery landscape. First, Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the claims administration process through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) will be relieved of his position. Second, the GCCF itself will be dissolved.
The GCCF will be replaced by court-supervised claims process that we hope and expect to be more even-handedly administered and more favorable to claimants. The final details of this process have not been released. However, according to the settlement, the amount of
each claimant’s recovery will depend on the amount of the claimant’s losses, and the location of the business or individual.
Under the terms of the new settlement, the following three groups will be able to recover:
1. Economic Loss Claims
Individuals and businesses that suffered financial losses from the oil spill will be compensated within a framework intended to encompass all economic losses reasonably related to the spill
2. Medical Benefits
Gulf Coast residents and clean-up workers who suffered acute or chronic illnesses from their exposure to oil and chemical dispersants in the weeks and months after the oil spill will be able to recover for their injuries. Residents in the coastal wetlands areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle will be compensated for a broad range of specific medical conditions such as respiratory, skin, stomach, head and headaches, and a host of other ailments.
3. Affected Property Owners
Property owners and long-term lessees of waterfront properties in the affected coastal and wetlands region are eligible to receive compensation for loss of use and enjoyment of their property.
If the settlement formula does not adequately address your specific claim, you have the option to exclude yourself from the settlement process and continue with your lawsuit. We will review your specific claim to assist you in making that decision. If it is in your best
interest to continue suit against BP directly, we are ready to continue that fight.
Please take notice: Some media outlets are erroneously reporting incorrect information regarding the terms of the settlement. First, there is no monetary ceiling placed on BP’s liability under the settlement. BP is obligated to pay all claims and expenses found due under the terms of the settlement. Second, claimants will not need to re-start the claims process. If you have already filed a claim with the GCCF, it will automatically carry-over to the new claims process. You may, however, need to provide additional information about your existing claim.
Decisions about what you should do will be highly personalized, and we will be here to advise you on what the best course of action will be for your individual case. Rest assured we are closely monitoring all the relevant information and your case will receive the same personal attention you have come to expect from Farrell & Patel.
As always, we will continue working on your behalf to maximize your recovery against BP. We will provide you with more details as soon as they are made available.
Very truly yours,
Wesley J. Farrell, Esq