A notification effort ordered by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is beginning Tuesday to notify people, businesses and other entities about two separate proposed settlements with BP Exploration & Production Inc. and BP America Production Company ("BP") related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP has estimated the cost of the proposed settlement to be approximately $7.8 billion. The total amount BP will pay to settle valid claims is uncapped, and the ultimate cost will depend on the actual outcomes of the court-supervised claims processes.
People may be affected by one or both settlements. In each settlement, Class Members have separate legal rights and options, including submitting claims for benefits, opting out or objecting to each settlement.
The Economic and Property Damages Settlement (or "E&PD Settlement") includes people, businesses and other entities who live, work, conduct business operations and/or own/lease property in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, along with specified Texas and Florida counties. The E&PD Settlement generally covers the following types of claims: 1) Seafood Compensation; 2) Economic Loss; 3) Loss of Subsistence; 4) Vessel Physical Damage; 5) Vessels of Opportunity Charter Payment; 6) Coastal Real Property Damage; 7) Wetlands Real Property Damage; and 8) Real Property Sales Damage. In addition to compensation for actual damage, payments to eligible claimants may include a multiplier related to unknown future damage.
The Medical Benefits Settlement (or "Medical Settlement') includes "Clean-Up Workers" and people who resided during specified periods in 2010 in specific coastal areas and wetlands areas. Medical Settlement benefits include (a) payments for Specified Physical Conditions including reimbursement of hospital expenses, (b) a 21-year Periodic Medical Consultation Program, and (c) a $105 million Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, available to all Gulf residents, Class Members and non-Class Members alike, in order to strengthen healthcare capacity and increase health literacy throughout the region.
Detailed information on the two settlements can be found at the settlement website, DeepwaterHorizonSettlements.com. The website has detailed maps that allow users to see if a geographic location may be included within one or more zones.
Notices will be mailed to known potential Class Members and are scheduled to appear in thousands of media outlets over the next 60 days in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Notices are to appear in Gulf Coast daily newspapers, print publications, television and radio spots and on Internet websites. A parallel nationwide media effort includes well-read consumer magazines, trade publications and highly-trafficked Internet websites.
The Court has appointed Stephen J. Herman (Lead Class Counsel), James Parkerson Roy (Lead Class Counsel), Brian H. Barr, Jeffery A. Breit, Elizabeth J. Cabraser, Philip F. Cossich, Jr., Robert T. Cunningham, Alphonso Michael Espy, Calvin C. Fayard, Jr., Robin L. Greenwald, Ervin A. Gonzalez, Rhon E. Jones, Matthew E. Lundy, Michael C. Palmintier, Joseph F. Rice, Paul M. Sterbcow, Scott Summy, Mikal C. Watts and Conrad S. P. Williams as Proposed Settlement Class Counsel to represent each of the Settlement Classes.
Class Members can submit a claim to either or both Settlements, or they can ask to be excluded from, or object to, either or both Settlements. The deadline to object to either or both settlements is August 31, 2012. The deadline to request exclusion from either or both settlements is October 1, 2012.
The deadline to submit most E&PD claims will be April 22, 2014 or six months after the E&PD Settlement becomes effective (that is, after the Court grants "final approval" and any appeals are resolved), whichever is later. There will be an earlier deadline to submit E&PD Seafood Compensation claims. The earlier deadline to submit Seafood Compensation claims will be 30 days after final approval of the Settlement by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (regardless of appeals). The deadline to submit Medical Benefits claims is one year after the Medical Settlement becomes effective (that is, after the Court grants "final approval" and any appeals are resolved). Exact claim filing deadlines will be posted on the website as they become available.
With the exception of some Seafood Compensation Program claims, eligible E&PD Settlement claims will be paid on a rolling basis and E&PD Settlement claimants may receive payments before the Court considers whether to grant final approval. Medical Settlement benefits will not be issued until after the Court grants final approval and any appeals are resolved.
A toll-free number, 1-866-992-6174 has been established in the case known as In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, along with a website, DeepwaterHorizonSettlements.com where notices, each Settlement Agreement and other documents may be obtained.
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