Major Challenge To ‘Class Settlement’ Agreement in BP Oil Spill Disaster – Appellate Briefs filed with 5th Circuit by 1000’s of Victims
July 15th – Houston, TX – On Friday, a consortium of dozens of law firms, accounting firms and claims processing facilities representing thousands of victims, filed an appellate brief in the ongoing Deepwater Horizon and BP oil spill disaster litigation with the U.S Court of Appeals 5th Circuit. The appeal argues the fairness of the settlement and requests the dismantling and restructuring of the class economic and property settlement, which was approved several months ago in the MDL proceedings pending in New Orleans.
The appeal exposes a number of fundamental problems with the inner workings of the settlement, ultimately impacting its implementation and ability to provide relief for the victims of the disaster. The consortium is alleging that as a result of BP’s uncompromising position and tactics, a significant number of victims have been excluded from the recovery process at the outset and that many more are being progressively eliminated through the settlement’s unrealistic submission process. As a result, a majority of cases are unsettled and will remain unsettled.
Additionally, the appeal addresses the fairness and practicality of the class settlement itself and the vetting of the class counsel overseeing its deployment.
While a number of law firms have objected to the class settlement, many filing objections and calling into focus a wide-range of issues proprietary to the class and how it operates, the appeal represents a growing movement against the class settlement and its inability to help those affected by the tragedy from the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Brent Coon & Associates, who has the most claims in the class as well as the most who have opted out, filed a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the faults with the economic settlement class Friday, and was joined with separate filings from various other law firms also seeking to modify this settlement or otherwise have it set aside.
“These appeals briefs were filed on behalf of wide ranging classes of victims of the spill”, says Mr. Coon, “and likewise involve wide ranging issues of ethics, transparency, application of the law of class actions, and interpretation of the class settlement and definitions of eligible vs. ineligible claims. While the notices of appeal were filed months ago, the extensive and detailed briefs of the aggrieved movants shed much more light on the nature of the legal issues called into play and numerous specific issues the parties have faced in the class settlement process.”
While the appeal involves thousands of victims of the oil spill, appeals of the class action interpretations have not been made exclusively by claimants. In fact, BP, an actual party to the settlement agreement which negotiated all of the terms, was in front of the same appeals court last week arguing that the settlement was being interpreted by the claims administrator, Pat Juneau, in an improper manner. “If BP has problems with the very agreement they drafted and agreed to, you can only imagine the amount of concerns and problems faced by the actual victims, who did not get much of a say in the process”, says Coon.
A complete copy of the appeal is posted on BCA’s oil spill website and is available for both reading and downloading. The appeal can be accessed with the link provided.
About Brent Coon & Associates:
Brent Coon & Associates was founded in 2001. Today, with several offices strategically located around the country, it is one of the largest and most flexible trial law firms in the nation and the epitome of the 21st century law practice. Brent Coon & Associates employs a number of aggressive litigators with decades of experience in wide ranging complex litigation. These professionals come from former backgrounds as judges and Supreme Court jurists, law professors and other academia, and bring an arsenal of resources including case management experts and associated counsel to further expand BCA’s legal network. This solid experience in individual and complex multi-party, occupational &environmental health and commercial litigation cases gives BCA a proven record of excellence in handling litigation matters. The majority of the firm’s cases are referred from other attorneys who have confidence in the firm’s integrity, expertise, solid work ethic and results.
BCA is a public policy firm and has worked with numerous state and federal investigative agencies. The firm’s body of public policy involvement has included working with the Department of Justice, OSHA, the United States Congress, The Texas Legislature, multiple states Attorney Generals and various other state, federal and municipal agencies in formulating guidelines, policies and legislation to improve safety and oversight in the industrial trades. BCA has handled unique settlements which dedicated tens of millions of dollars to training and education in heavy industry, including $12.5 Million to the Texas A&M process safety engineering training program and a $5 million dollar grant to the Texas College of the Mainland for an industrial worksite training curriculum. Millions more has been dedicated to research and studies in occupational health, including a $12.5 million dollar donation to the burn center program at the UTMB Galveston Burn Center in Galveston, Texas. Many of the firm attorneys have regularly been consultants to the legal profession and have presented on hundreds of occasions as guest commentators, speakers, and consultants on a variety of legal matters internationally. For more information about Brent Coon & Associates, visit our website at www.bcoonlaw.com.