On Monday Loyola College of Law Professor Blaine LeCesne was a guest of WWL radio’s Garland Robinette where the two discussed the shocking developments in the BP settlement claims program. Garland and Professor LeCesne spend thirty minutes reviewing the recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which effectively put a halt to all business economic loss claims under the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program.
This in-depth interview lays out the issues in an objective fashion, questioning how the 5th Circuit, in an opinion written largely by Judge Clement (with Judge Southwick concurring in part and Judge Dennis dissenting), could interpret the unambiguous terms of the 1,200 page Settlement Agreement in such a way as to provide BP a victory even the company was not asking for.
Garland wonders aloud how any contract will ever be enforced in the future if one as thorough and well vetted as this agreement is allowed to be violated by BP. The company, which employs some of the highest caliber legal talent in the world, claims it was hoodwinked and did not understand what it signed when the Settlement Agreement was executed nearly two years ago.
Professor LeCesne also touches on the important issue of “false negatives,” those businesses that were clearly devastated by BP’s spill, but who did not maintain adequate records to substantiate such losses in the settlement claims program. BP is fond of trotting out “false positives,” or claimants who in the company’s estimation were not harmed by their spill, but who nevertheless qualify for payment because they meet certain objective eligibility criteria agreed to by BP. The knife cuts both ways. BP argues it should not have to pay these “false positives,” but says nothing of the hundreds of millions of dollars in “false negatives” it is escaping liability for. BP wants its cake and to eat it too.
Finally, the two also discuss how BP’s $500 million advertising campaign obscures the real issues and may have influenced 5th Circuit judges, who, even with the best of intentions to remain neutral, are nevertheless human and possibly susceptible to such manipulation. Let’s hope not.
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As a plaintiff attorney, Tom Young has been at the forefront of some of the Nation's worst disasters. In 2015, he was judicially appointed to represent over 200,000 plaintiffs in an allocation proceeding involving a $1.24 billion settlement with Deepwater Horizon contractor Halliburton and rig owner Transocean. Currently, he's focused on representing numerous communities across the country that have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic and are now seeking damages from drug manufacturers and distributors.