A Cost Effective Approach to Handling Claims Arising from the BP Oil Spill

Stockwell Sievert Law Firm

Individuals and businesses who suffered economic loss or property damage as a result of the British Petroleum-Deepwater Horizons oil spill in 2010 are now eligible to apply for their share of a action settlement with BP Exploration and Production, Inc. and BP America Production Company (“BP”).

Eligibility will be based on a number of factors, including the proximity of a business to the Gulf of Mexico and its financial performance in 2010.  Many businesses, including those in the greater Lake Charles area, will be eligible to receive compensation under the criteria set forth in the settlement agreement.  While some businesses in certain industries are specifically excluded, everyone in the Gulf Coast Region should explore their possible entitlement to these funds.  Many business owners will be pleasantly surprised with the results of their efforts.  Eligible claimants can receive compensation for:  (1) seafood compensation; (2) economic damage; (3) loss of subsistence; (4) vessel physical damage; (5) vessels of opportunity charter payment; (6) coastal real property damages; (7) wetlands real property damage; and (8) real property sales damage.

Despite the fact that the settlement in this case has already been reached and finalized by BP and the attorneys representing the class of claimants, some law firms in the Gulf Coast Region have been soliciting potential members of the class of claimants proposing representation on a contingency fee basis which could be as high as 30% to 40%.  A high contingency fee approach seems unnecessary as the legal work needed in most cases should be limited to advising clients on their eligibility for compensation and assisting in the organization, preparation, and submittal of their claim. 

The attorneys for the class of claimants who agreed to the settlement with BP have their own separate fund to pay their legal fees, which enables each eligible claimant to receive their full share of compensation.  There is no apparent reason why a claimant should give up 30% to 40% of available compensation when all eligible claimants with qualified claims will be paid under the same process.

In fact, the federal judge assigned to this case has recently agreed with this position recognizing that, with liability already determined, a contingency fee of more than 25% would be unreasonable and, in many instances, a smaller percentage should be the maximum.

Our firm is prepared to assist clients with evaluation and, as appropriate, filing and processing their claims on an even more reasonable basis:  a possibly lower cap of 15% on a contingency fee, where no fee is earned unless a recovery is made, or even a lesser charge if 15% is much more than the value of the time we actually have to expend at our normal rates.  Additionally, we are prepared to work these claims at our standard hourly rates on a non-contingency fee basis to accommodate the needs and preferences of each individual client. 

If a claimant does not want to be legally bound by the settlement agreement, the claimant must opt out by October 1, 2012.    Click here for other important dates.  Claimants should act promptly as valid claims will be paid as they are approved.  This also eliminates the possibility of missing a filing deadline.

Alan McCall and Stephen Polito are the principal attorneys who will be handling these matters on behalf of our firm.  Please contact their assistant Brenda Ulmer [337.493.7266 or bhulmer@ssvcs.com] to make an appointment.  For more information about the settlement agreement and the claims process, go to http://www.DeepwaterHorizonSettlements.com/

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