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Sloppy lawsuit claims process leaves a trail of questionable awards in Gulf spill

Some plaintiff trial lawyers and their clients who were “unjustly enriched” though the oil spill settlement could soon be forced to give back some of their awards. In a motion filed in federal court last week, BP called on U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to order the repayment of hundreds of millions of dollars it says were overpaid to claimants through the Court Supervised Settlement Program. The company argues that repayment is necessary because some claimants received “inflated or unwarranted awards,” largely as the result of “erroneous implementation” of the oil spill settlement by the court-appointed claims administrator, Patrick Juneau. Judge Barbier is also being asked to compel the lawyers who represented those claimants to “return their share of the improperly-calculated awards.”

This is the latest move in an ongoing legal battle between the company and plaintiffs’ lawyers over implementation of the settlement. Last December, the court issued a ruling acknowledging that part of the agreement was being misinterpreted and recently adopted a new policy for calculating losses and paying out claims. According to the filing, the claimants and their lawyers who were “unjustly enriched” should be forced to repay to ensure equal treatment of all parties under the old and new policies. Read more.

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