BP and the United States have announced an agreement to resolve all federal criminal charges against BP.  In the agreement, BP agreed to pay a record fine of $4 billion and an additional $525 million to resolve federal securities violations.  As part of the agreement, BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges including eleven charges of manslaughter for each of the eleven men killed in the casualty, one charge pertaining to violations of the Clean Water Act, one charge pertaining to violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one charge of Obstruction of Congress.

The Obstruction of Congress charge is in regards to BP’s admission that it misrepresented the amount of oil flowing from the Macondo well to members of Congress.  The obstruction charge has also resulted in the indictment of the BP executive who made the false statements to Congress.  In addition, at least two other BP employees working on the rig have been indicted for their acts related to the interpretation of the negative pressure test and the tragic eleven deaths.

Under the terms of the agreement, BP will pay the fines to the federal government in installments over a period of years.  The agreement between the United States and BP does not resolve the continuing civil fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act based upon the barrels of oil that flowed from the well; damages owed to the United States and the Gulf Coast states for Natural Resource Damages claims; the Gulf Coast states’ economic loss claims under the Oil Pollution Act; private securities claims; and the claims of individuals who either were excluded from the economic class action settlement or opted out.

The economic class action settlement for businesses and individuals has been processing claims since June 4, 2010 and will be open to process claims until at least April, 2014.  All businesses and individuals in the class area, which includes four counties in Texas, the entire State of Louisiana, the entire State of Mississippi, the entire State of Alabama, the Panhandle of Florida, and the Gulf Coast of Florida down to Monroe County are eligible to make claims in the economic class settlement.

More information on the BP oil spill claims process.

Cameron Stephenson is a lawyer with the Levin, Papantonio law firm in Pensacola, Florida, and handles medical malpractice and other wrongful death cases.  He has devoted his legal practice to fighting for the rights of Florida’s injured patients.