The just-announced settlement between BP and the class action plaintiffs in the Gulf oil spill is just overture to the real court battle that will take place. The plaintiffs are no doubt deserving, and will finally receive compensation. But in terms of money, it is a sideshow.
Stephen Mufson of the Washington Post reports:
BP will pay an estimated $7.8 billion to settle a lawsuit over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill with attorneys representing thousands of individual plaintiffs and businesses on the eve of a major trial in a New Orleans federal court, the company said Friday night.
BP said it expects to pay the settlement from the money remaining in a $20 billion escrow account, or trust fund, it set up during the spill to resolve individual and business claims without going to court.
The settlement amount includes $2.3 billion to help resolve economic loss claims related to the gulf seafood industry, the company said. The rest of the money paid out by BP will be determined by two separate sets of formulas and matrices, one for economic claims and one for medical claims. The process will be court supervised. BP also agreed to provide medical consultations for the next 21 years to people with health-related claims and to pay $105 million to improve health care in gulf communities.
This moves private plaintiffs to one side allowing the big boys -- BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and Cameron to square off against the Federal and state/local governments. That is where the huge money resides, in the fines under the Clean Water Act & the Oil Pollution Act.
If the private corporations can drive the fines down, they can then spilt them (probably three ways BP, Transocean & Halliburton), plus the clean up and containment expenses, at a fraction of the exaggerated dreams of the Obama Administration and its fellow travelers in the plaintiffs' bar. They will likely be able to do this for less than the $20 billion BP put up to cover the spill way back in May 2010.