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BP Reaches Estimated $7.8B Deal in Oil Spill; Will Feinberg Claimants Benefit?

Posted Mar 5, 2012 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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BP has agreed to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to settle a class action by around 100,000 plaintiffs and businesses harmed by the Gulf oil spill.

If U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans approves the deal, it will be among the largest class action settlements in history, the Associated Press reports. There will be no cap on the total amount paid. Attorney fees for work already done are expected to be paid by BP, rather than plaintiffs, the New York Times reports.

Two separate formulas—one for economic claims and one for health claims—will be used to determine payouts, the Washington Post reports. The company plans to phase out the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that has paid claims under the oversight of Kenneth Feinberg.

In the meantime, anyone who has received a settlement offer from the Feinberg fund will get 60 percent of the money right away, and will have to join the lawsuit to get the rest, the New York Times says. Plaintiffs who prefer the original offer can choose it.

Stephen Herman and James Roy, liaison counsel for the plaintiffs, told the Times that Claims Facility claimants will generally get more money under the new program. Louisiana lawyer Daniel Becnel Jr., who has used the fund for most of his clients, was skeptical. “It looks like it’s all about fees,” he told the Times. “You’re going to have a lot of opt-outs.”

Still pending are state and federal claims against BP, as well as lawsuits filed by the oil company’s drilling partners, according to AP and the Houston Chronicle.

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