Law firm Update Brent Coon & Associates
As most of you recall, BP challenged the DHECC procedures for calculating losses. This resulted in an appeal to the 5th Circuit last year, and BP won the argument. The appeals panel ordered the trial court to figure out a better mechanism for handling the loss calculations. This applied primarily to BEL cases. As a consequence of that order, Judge Barbier ordered the Claims Administrator to modify the way the accounting was done. All of these issues are why there was an injunction on paying BEL since last year.
Patrick Juneau (the CA) filed a report to Judge Barbier a few months ago with a new plan for these calculations, what has been called Policy 495. This policy was accepted by Judge Barbier last month. We oppose this policy in principle, as it will materially alter the outcome of a number of claims detrimentally. In fact, the PSC filed a letter with the Court advising that approval of the new policy would be A MATERIAL CHANGE TO THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.
We also took that position and advised the PSC that we would file a motion to re-notice the class and give everyone a second chance to opt out of the agreement, as they way Juneau said calculations would be handled is apparently no longer the case, and such a material change should constitute a right to new notice.
The Court nonetheless did approve it, and BP then immediately filed a motion to stay payments again and to have the policy apply RETROACTIVELY to reduce past payments on claims, and to be paid back for those overpayments, along with attorneys fees and interest.
The Court has entertained a PSC motion to revisit the ruling adopting 495, and the Court Friday at least issued a clarifying order stating how the acceptance of the new claims policy is to be applied. Again, all of these issues are subject to further Court modification and appeals by the PSC or BP back to the 5th Circuit.
It is regrettable that this settlement has deteriorated into such a mess, but these were all issues we were concerned about two years ago, which is why our firm objected to the settlement as drafted and expressed our concerns that there were too many important terms in the settlement that were likely to be the subject of debate and reinterpretation down the road because of ambiguities, inconsistencies, and absence of sufficient detail on various application issues (which is why we now have hundreds of amendments to the initial settlement). Everyone on the PSC and BP teams assured the court that this would NOT be the case, and the settlement would treat all claimants more favorably than the GCCF, that it would be transparent, that it would be CLAIMANT FRIENDLY, and that it would be FAST, FAIR and EFFICIENT.
BPs long track record of lying under oath, lying as officers of the Court, lying to Congress, and lying to the media were not fully appreciated by the PSC and we now all live with the consequences. Can’t say they weren’t warned.
New Judge Order Rule 496 Order
First here is the 5th Circuit decision. Click here
This should be the end of BP stopping the paying of claims for all Business and Individuals. Now we just wait for the Deepwater Horizon Settlement to implement it and start sending out the offers they have been working on for the last 8 months.