From Leader Post (Reuters)
- BP and its partners in the blown-out Gulf well said on Monday that
thousands of fishermen, seafood processors, restaurants, hotel owners
and others may not yet have the right to sue over the spill, according
to court papers.
BP and its partners such as Transocean Ltd and
Halliburton Co said the majority of alleged victims who have brought
about 400 lawsuits must first take their claims to a $20 billion fund
established by BP.
The document was part of the defense team’s
proposal for managing the case, which could become one of the largest
and most costly in U.S. history.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys also
filed their management proposal, in which they pressed the court to
begin expanded discovery next month. They also proposed that by March
they would identify test cases that would proceed to trial.
plaintiffs would likely benefit if the hundreds of cases move quickly.
They proposed BP and its partners should turn over electronic messages,
contracts and details about employees with knowledge about the well and
much more in the coming weeks.
The defendants, who are presumably
better served if the cases languish and drop from the news coverage,
countered with a proposal by setting a schedule to agree on the format
for requested documents.
BP and its defendants sought to use the $20 billion claims fund to slow the pace of the lawsuits.
argued that cases in which someone claimed an economic loss, such as a
restaurant that suffered because it could not serve Gulf seafood or a
shrimper whose boat was idled by the fishing ban, could not sue until it
brought its claim to the BP fund.
The fund would then have 90
days to pay the claim or reject it. The claimant could only proceed to
the courts if their claim was rejected, according to the defendants.
defendants said the question of the right to sue should be settled
before they have to expand the type of documents they provide to the
The fund, which was taken over last month by Obama
administration’s former executive pay czar Kenneth Feinberg, could
presumably pay the vast majority of the stronger claims, such as those
brought by resorts that had oil-smeared beaches.
That could leave
BP and its defendants facing weaker claims that the fund rejects, such
as those brought by businesses miles from areas affected by the spill.
incoming Chief Executive Bob Dudley has told analysts that the $20
billion independent claims fund would be sufficient to meet compensation
Both defendants and plaintiffs agreed that the best way
to proceed was to bundle similar cases, such as one track for workers
injured in the blast on the rig, another for state and local governments
suing for loss of tax revenue and so on.
The hundreds of cases filed around the United States as a result of the spill were consolidated in a New Orleans court.
case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf
of Mexico April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of
Louisiana, No. 10-MDL-2179.
Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/