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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

BP Oli Spill: Settlement includes alleged punitive damage claims and assigned claims for commercial fishermen and property owners directly affected by oil

Today Halliburton Energy Services Inc. and the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee announced a $1.028 billion settlement for alleged punitive damage claims and claims held by the class that were created as part of the Economic and Property Damages Settlement in In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon." In the previous class, BP PLC assigned to the class all rights BP had to seek recovery from Halliburton, if any. The Halliburton Punitive Damage Settlement will principally include commercial fishermen and property owners whose property was physically touched by oil spilled as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.
"This punitive and assigned claims settlement with Halliburton is a reasonable compromise of a highly contested issue – the level of responsibility of Halliburton and the degree of the alleged failures of Halliburton's conduct," said Motley Rice co-founder, Joe Rice, who was a lead negotiator in the settlement with Halliburton, as well as the two settlements reached with BP, the Economic and Property Damages Settlement and the Medical Benefits Settlement. "We are pleased to have finally come to terms which both parties are able to accept."
The settlement with Halliburton does not resolve any individual's claims for compensatory damage. In January 2012, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled that BP must indemnify Halliburton for certain damages claims related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster that did not initiate from Halliburton property. However, under the ruling, Halliburton could still be found responsible for punitive damages.
Upon approval by Judge Barbier, a court-appointed settlement administrator would oversee the settlement's implementation, including the allocation of recovery between the assigned claims and the punitive class. An opinion on the phase one and phase two trials, which will address in part the level of Halliburton's responsibility under the facts and applicable law, is expected in the near future.   
Halliburton supplied the cement that was used to seal the Deepwater Horizon well. However, BP was in the process of abandoning the well and the seal failed to keep gas and oil from entering the well, which triggered the fatal explosion. Plaintiffs alleged that BP, Transocean and Halliburton were liable in whole or partially as a result of cost-cutting practices, failure to adhere to proper rules, regulations, and guidelines, as well as negligent, willful or wanton business practices.
"There are still many issues yet to be resolved related to responsibility for this tragic event four years ago that continues to negatively affect businesses and individuals throughout the Gulf Coast," added Rice. "But we are gratified that this settlement with Halliburton allows more claimants to be closer to resolution. The entire Plaintiffs' Steering Committee has continued to stay focused and determined in pursuing all potential recoveries for the people of the Gulf Coast."
The Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled approximately 4.9 million gallons of oil into the water, killed 11 oil rig workers, devastated our nation's natural resources and harmed the economic and emotional well-being of hundreds of thousands of people. Read more about the Medical Benefits SettlementEconomic and Property Damages Class Action Settlements reached with BP. Read more about the Seafood Compensation Program established under the Economic and Property Damages Settlement.