The federal judge presiding over a case against BP has given final approval to a settlement that will distribute approximately $7.8 billion to tens of thousands of individuals and businesses affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement will resolve medical and economic claims from the worst offshore oil spill in the history of the United States. There is no cap on the settlement and the final amount may be higher or lower.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier made the settlement final in a 125-page ruling, stating that none of the objections raised had shown that the settlement was unreasonable or inadequate.
After Barbier’s preliminary approval, thousands of people chose to opt out of the settlement and pursue their cases on an individual basis, but by the December 15 deadline, more than 1,700 plaintiffs had opted back in.
BP said the settlement was in the best interest of the company’s stakeholders and was good for the Gulf region. Attorneys for the plaintiffs were also pleased, saying that the settlement would provide relief for people affected by the spill.
The April 2010 blowout of the well known as Macondo set off an explosion that resulted in the deaths of 11 oil rig workers and leaked 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, bringing fishing and shrimping to a halt.
The settlement covers people and businesses in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and some coastal areas of western Florida and eastern Texas. There will still be a trial, scheduled for next year, to determine the cause of the blowout and assign fault to the various companies involved.
According to Barbier, the settlement will prevent the litigation from stretching to perhaps more than a decade, as it did after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. BP has already begun paying claims.