Patrick Juneau, the Lafayette attorney appointed to take over the BP claims process from Kenneth Feinberg, is optimistic about the fate of the massive BP settlement in the works for thousands of Gulf workers who were affected by the 2010 BP oil spill.
Juneau tells The Houston Chronicle that only 100 to 200 oil spill claimants have opted out of the settlement so far, a figure that indicates both parties will likely close the deal:
The figure is important because BP’s agreement with lawyers for plaintiffs allows the oil giant to withdraw from the deal if too many claimants opt out. BP has not said what that threshold is. Those who don’t opt by a Nov. 1 deadline are part of the class action settlement and cannot pursue separate lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans, who tentatively approved the deal, has set a hearing to begin Nov. 8 in federal court in New Orleans to assess whether it is fair. Barbier then will decide whether to give it final approval.
Fishermen, other Gulf workers and the attorneys general in Mississippi and Louisiana have objected to elements of the proposed settlement. In particular, they are concerned about whether the total amount will be enough to cover all victims for damage they have experienced in the past and are expected to experience in the future.
BP has estimated that the settlement will equate to roughly $7.8 billion, though there is no cap on damages.
The Chronicle also reports that Juneau’s law firm is being paid $240,000 a month for its work in the epic litigation, far less than the $1.25 million monthly earnings Feinberg and his Washington law firm partners were taking home before Juneau took over.
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