Three years ago, Tilting told tales of oil spill legal problems suffered by Forrest Gump, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Wok Ann chu-gumm Seafood Restaurants, Chef Red Fishy and Bishop Carp. Tilting predicted class action lawsuits against British Petroleum and big settlements. Bubba, Chef Red and Bishop Carp ignored Tilting’s advice and never joined a lawsuit. Is it too late to recover? If not, what does it take? Must they hire a lawyer?

Not Too Late

For many claims, it’s not too late. The qualification criteria can be a little complicated and tricky; yet, there is a lot of explanatory information online. A lawyer is not required, certainly for the obvious and relatively simple claims. However, the more complicated and sizeable the claim, the more confusing the 1,000 plus page settlement agreement seems to read, and the greater the risk that a claim may be challenged and require additional supporting documentation.

Class Action Lawsuits

On April 18, 2012 BP and Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee of the class action lawsuits entered into the Economic and Property Damage Class Action Settlement Agreement. The BP settlement approved last December was designed to rehabilitate businesses all over the Gulf Coast after the economic devastation of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As of March 31, 2013, BP paid almost Nine Billion Dollars on individual and business claims made both before and after the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana approved the settlement agreement in December 2012. Even though BP attempted to block oil spill claim payments which it argued were more expansive than what was intended, the federal judge rejected BP’s claims. Large financial payments are waiting for many businesses, and lots of them don’t even know about it.


Deadline: There are a number of deadlines to file claims; the last is April 22, 2014.
Location Qualifications: Individuals and businesses living in, owning, leasing or operating a facility between April 20, 2010 and April 16, 2012, in: states – Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi; Texas counties – Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson and Orange; and Florida counties – Bay, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hernando, Hillsborough, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Monroe, Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.
Claims Qualifications: The categories include: (1) Seafood compensation program; (2) Economic damages; (3) Loss of subsistence; (4) Vessels of Opportunity charter payment; (5) Vessel physical damage; (6) Coastal real property damage; (7) Wetlands real property damage; and (8) Real property sales damage.
Business Qualifications: To be eligible, business entities must sell products directly to end user or consumers, or must sell products to another entity that then sells them to end users or consumers.  Additionally, service businesses that performed their full-time services while physically present in the states and counties listed above at any time between April 20, 2010, and April 16, 2012.  Excluded businesses include those related to insurance, gaming, real estate development, financial institutions, defense and oil & gas.  Depending upon where a claimant’s business is located and the type of business, different documentation will be required to substantiate a claim.  However, if businesses meet certain criteria, they do not need to produce documents evidencing their losses were directly attributed to the BP spill.
Lawyer?: Not necessarily. There is an online form.Some are electing to allow their accountants to handle their claims.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor

This is one of the most complicated settlements in history. The larger and the more complicated your claim, the more important it is to confirm the claims process with an expert. Equally as importantly, we encourage potential claimants to file their claim well prior to the April 2014 claims deadline.  There has been much conversation about the size of the available settlement pool, the contractual limitations imposed by the settlement agreement and the implications if funds run short. Filing accurately and early may prove critical.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Looper Reed.  We are experienced in mass tort litigation and have teamed up with attorneys on the BP class action Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Our team worked closely with the accountants processing the settlement and responsible for creating the templates and criteria to evaluate the claims.