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The following is an opinion piece reposted with permission from attorney Joe Rice, one of the lead negotiators of the BP Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement.

Good news came today for claimants in the Deepwater Horizon litigation when the U.S. Supreme Court refused BP’s request to block payments under the Business and Economic Loss (BEL) Settlement Agreement while the Court considers whether or not it will review BP’s challenge of that settlement’s terms.

While there’s no doubt that BP will continue trying to rewrite the settlement terms that it agreed to, this ruling is one step closer to hopefully, once and for all, allowing the Gulf Coast to move forward after the tragic 2010 oil spill.

It is important to note, though, that new rules (that have been accepted and approved by Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau and Judge Carl Barbier) under Policy 495 change the terms of the original BEL Settlement by drastically reducing or even eliminating payments to construction, education, professional services and agriculture businesses. The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, of which I am a member, has filed a motion with Judge Barbier to amend Policy 495. If implemented in its current state, Policy 495 is inconsistent with the Fifth Circuit’s approval of the original Settlement Agreement.

As I told reporter Alison Frankel with Reuters recently, “If [Policy 495] is implemented as it is written, BP will have successfully rewritten the settlement agreement to save itself several billion dollars.” We continue to fight BP’s attempts to renege on its agreement.

Even with today’s decision from the Supreme Court, it will take some time for the Deepwater Horizon Claims Centers to be fully up and running again. But I am reassured by the Supreme Court’s decision today and hope it is a sign of more good news to come for Gulf residents and business owners.


  1. Gravatar for Amanda

    This is huge. I'm still not sure how BP has been able to make it as far as they have in the courts... Their current arguments directly contradict their previous statements and assertions about this settlement that they co-wrote and agreed to. (And, urged others to agree to as well.) The court records provide the truth here.

    Policy 495 is a different can of worms that doesn't follow the original, agreed upon settlement. Basically, BP has managed to damage the Gulf Coast's recovery & settlement process - which arose from the consequences of their negligent business practices - just like they damaged the Gulf of Mexico waters, ecosystems, residents, and economies. We haven't even seen the full extent of the damage they've done...

  2. Gravatar for John Curl

    If BP won'ts to eliminate policy 495 and not pay the construction company's , service providers for the ship building industrey when vessels could not even operate in the oily water due to engine damage, then who will they agree to pay ?

  3. Gravatar for Brent

    Our family has been in the fishing industry on the Gul coast over three generations.The bank foreclosed on our plant in 2012.we have not been compensated to this day.I have had an attorney retained 10 days after the spill.The bank has taken everything we own,now they are going after what compensation we may get from the BP settlement.The attorneys I have retained have only give me pessimistic answers as to which the bank may get our settlement.We are operating the best we can right now.The last 7 years we have produced a constant over a million pounds of just locally harvested Finfish.Fro January to now we have only produced around 135,000 pounds.I have even contacted our Distric attorney Luther Strange,but he does not reply because he is too busy doing commercials on how BP has helped the local businesses.We have been overlooked.If anyone has any good advice please contact me.Thanks

    God Bless

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