Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) –- BP Plc (BP/), having pledged billions of dollars for damages caused by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, won’t have to make payouts any time soon to more than 95 percent of the workers hurt while cleaning up the mess.
If the workers want money for their physical injuries, they’ll need to sue the company, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled yesterday, saying they no longer qualify for automatic compensation under the company’s medical-benefits settlement.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier expressed frustration that the vast majority of an estimated 20,000 individuals injured from exposure to crude oil and dispersants during the spill weren’t covered by a deal he thought would end such litigation.
BP, based in London, may save as much as $1.2 billion of the estimated $9.7 billion overall cost of its settlement of most private spill-damage claims, according to court filings.
All individuals with exposure-related injuries diagnosed after an April 2012 cutoff date must sue for compensation under contract provisions reserved for latent injuries, such as cancer, which might develop years after someone comes into contact with the spill, BP argued. In yesterday’s ruling, Barbier reluctantly agreed.
“The interpretation may not be what the court envisioned at the time” or what victims’ lawyers thought they’d negotiated, Barbier said in an eight-page ruling...