Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Update: BP Oil Spill Claims & Compensation

The BP Oil Spill Petition Rejected; Company Forced to Compensate Victims

On April 20th, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, the BP-owned oil drilling rig known as the Deepwater Horizon exploded. This lead to one of the largest accidental oil spills in the world.

The spill, which unleashed a “gusher of oil that lasted for months and coated beaches all along the Gulf Coast,” took lives. Eleven workers on the rig never returned home; it has killed an immeasurable amount of wildlife; yet 4 ½ years later, court decisions are still being made on how to deal with the situation.

In 2012, BP signed a 1033-paged settlement agreement as defendants in a case against Bon Secour Fisheries. Secour, being a Gulf-based commercial fishing company in Alabama, suffered serious losses from the spill. The settlement agreement would make it easier for BP to pay compensation to those who truly needed it, but a misinterpretation stirred up some commotion.

The court-appointed financial middleman for the two parties—Patrick Juneau—was allegedly paying off too many victims who did not suffer injuries directly related to the spill. He had apparently awarded the owner of a hotel in Mississippi $450,000 to compensation for damages, but the hotel had previously been closed for many months for repair due to an unrelated fire.

BP’s only option was to change the specific terms of the settlement agreement that was allowing Juneau to make these undeserved and costly payments to plaintiffs. They filed the original petition to make these changes on August 1st, 2014—it called for an answer by September 4th, 2014, but many requested delays and rescheduling, it hadn’t a chance to be approved until December 8th, 2014. However, the Supreme Court made an icebreaking decision by denying the petition without hesitation, giving no reason or response.

With the petition denied, BP’s last hopes of reducing the financial effects of the spill have been lost. Geoff Morrell, Senior Vice President and Head of US Communications & External Affairs at BP plc, has attempted to pacify any stockholders in the company by stating that the company will “continue to advocate for the investigation of suspicious or implausible claims and to fight fraud where it is uncovered,"

This denial, however, is great news for victims who have experienced losses related to the oil spill. If the petition had passed, a large amount of genuine claims are likely to have been nullified, possibly destroying any chances that a truly injured victim had for compensation. Because of the court’s decision to deny the petition, securing compensation for losses related to the BP oil spill—even loss in business for captains—is looking brighter than ever.

On top of the financial stress associated with the personal injury and loss claims pertaining to the oil spill, BP has also been faced with outstanding criminal charges. With a total of $1.3 billion in criminal fines, the company finds itself on the top 10 list of highest criminal penalties placed by the U.S. against a company. BP pleaded guilty to “11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of a ship’s officers”. An obstruction charge was also placed against former BP Vice President David Rainey for understating to Congress the flow rate of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.  The company stepped forward and took responsibility, paying his $525 million fine.

Still pending is a criminal charge under the Clean Water Act that could cost the company a whopping $21 billion. Efforts to have around 80% of those penalties redirected to the reparation of the Gulf are being made by the Mississippi River Delta under the RESTORE Act.


The effects of the BP oil spill were felt to great extent in the Tampa Bay area. Many shore-hugging companies were damaged; tons of fishing companies and restaurants were forced to halt business for a time, and a saddening amount of wildlife was lost due to this tragic event. Let’s not forget about the 11 lives that were taken by the explosion, or those who were left with traumatic memories or injuries.

If you or a loved one believes that the BP oil spill has lead to a physical, emotional, mental, or monetary loss or injury, contact the experienced BP oil spill attorneys at Dolman Law Group. We’ve been operating in Clearwater since 2009 and witnessed firsthand the events following the BP oil spill. Call us today for a free consultation and case evaluation at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 451-6900

Practice Area: 
BP Oil Spill Loss