The Environmental Litigation Group has tackled a number of tough issues, perhaps none with as broad a physical and economic reach as the BP oil spill. Representing hundreds of public entities, businesses, and individuals who were affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, ELG played a prominent role in litigation against BP and other companies responsible for the explosion and spill, including Transocean and Halliburton. Baron & Budd shareholder and environmental lawyer Scott Summy serves as a member of the court-appointed Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) that guides the litigation on behalf of all injured parties, and he is a member of the court-appointed Executive Committee (EC). Now that BP, Transocean, and Halliburton have agreed to settlements, ELG continues to represent claimants in the settlement processes.
Scope of the Injuries
The BP oil spill began with the deadly explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010. The tragedy rocked communities all along the Gulf Coast. Families lost loved ones who had worked on the rig. Coastal cities and businesses watched the shore anxiously for the oil slick to roll onto shore. Fishermen were forced to leave their fishing grounds and go without catch.
In the weeks that followed, business along the Gulf slowed. Oil streaked and clumped on beaches. Hotels lost reservations as visitors decided to vacation elsewhere. Boat dealers couldn’t sell inventory for fear that oil would damage new boats. Restaurants sat empty as diners avoided seafood. And as businesses lost customers, their employees lost income and jobs. The ripple effect spread, so that even hospitals and movie theaters saw a downturn. Oyster leaseholders were especially devastated as they lost significant production that may continue for many years. The environmental and commercial damage was unprecedented. Soon, governmental subdivisions lost revenues from a variety of business, sales, property, and tourism taxes.
How we Negotiated Settlement for Victims of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill
ELG lawyers took immediate action in 2010, working tirelessly to help both individuals and businesses that were affected by the BP oil spill. The firm took a leading role in negotiations with BP, Transocean and Halliburton and has represented thousands of clients in this matter.
In 2012, the PSC negotiated an open-ended settlement with BP of property damage, economic and medical claims by businesses and individuals — with no cap (or limit) on the value of potential payments to claimants. In addition, BP set aside $2.3 billion for oyster leaseholders, commercial fishermen, seafood boat captains, and others. And another $57 million will be used to promote the Gulf areas to increase tourism and the seafood industry.
ELG continues to represent clients who filed claims with BP’s Settlement Program. Once those claims are finalized, ELG will represent clients in similar settlement programs set up by Halliburton and Transocean.