With final approval of the multi-billion dollar settlement under advisement, oil giant British Petroleum continues to pay claims through the Deepwater Horizon Settlement Facility.

On November 8, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier held a Fairness Hearing to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.  While the court heard from a few objecting parties, both BP and the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee urged the Court to issue final approval of what is one of the largest mass tort settlements in the nation’s history.  Judge Barbier did not rule from the bench or set a date for when he would deliver his ruling.  Yet despite this uncertainty, BP continues to pay thousands of claims which would seem to indicate that the oil company’s expectation is that final approval is all but certain.  The Court’s final approval will pave the way for BP to payout what it expects to be $7.8 billion in settlements to individuals and businesses throughout the Gulf Coast areas.

The settlement received preliminary approval in April 2012 and the Deepwater Horizon Claims Facility began accepting oil spill claims on June 4.  Potential class members include all businesses and individuals the entire state of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama along with four coastal counties in Texas and all Gulf front counties in Florida.

Since the settlement received preliminary approval, more than 96,000 claims have been filed by class members.  Florida represents the largest group of claimants at 33%, with Louisiana and Alabama at 27% and 16% respectively.  In total, the Deepwater Horizon Settlement Facility has issued eligibility notices on approximately 15,500 claims representing settlement offers totaling $1.16 billion.  Business owners represent more than half of the eligible claims.

More information on the BP claims process can be found here.

Wesley Bowden is an associate attorney at Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A.  He is a member of the firm’s Environmental Department.  His practice focuses upon representing businesses and individuals affected by the BP oil spill.

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