On Dec. 8, The United States Supreme declined to hear BPs latest objection stemming from its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Marathon attorney Richard Malafy, the oil company was challenging numerous stipulations agreed to in the original settlement, including paying claims to those who were not directly affected by the oil spill.
“This was BP’s last ditch effort,” said Malafy, a partner at the law offices of Campbell and Malafy. “The only other appeal they could possibly pursue is to claim a conflict of interest with the settlement administrator and that is unlikely.”
In a just world, that would mean that claim payments will start flowing again. Previously, the Supreme Court had rejected a motion to stay the claims process. Despite that ruling, many claimants say the refund process has stalled.
“The money was supposed to have been flowing this whole time,” Malafy said. “The focus should be back on processing claims now, rather than fighting all of these legal battles.”
The ruling triggers the clock for the deadline to file claims. It’s likely the settlement administrator will use June 8, 2015 as a deadline to file (six months after the Supreme Court decision).
“To be safe, we strongly recommend that any and all parties desiring to make a claim do so immediately,” Malafy said.
At the end of this claims process, all claims will be extinguished — regardless of whether an individual or business files. When the deadline expires, potential claimants effectively give BP a complete and final release for any and all claims they had in the past — and may have in the future — regardless of whether they participate in the settlement and regardless of whether they ever receive any payment.
“A lot of people we speak to often mention that they are concerned about the future and will wait and see what happens,” Malafy said. “This is not an option. For instance, if a fishery collapses in a year or two, as a long term effect of the spill, the claim would precluded if not filed prior to the deadline.”
So far, BP has paid $28 billion in claims. Halliburton and Transocean each contributed more than $1 billion to the settlement fund for their roles in the disaster.