BP Closes Internal Oil Spill Claims ProgramJune 24, 2014
As of this week, oil giant BP has decided to close its internal program related to oil spill claims from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. This startling decision removes a source of potential relief for more than 10,000 affected business operators and homeowners who had chosen not to participate in the company’s disputed settlement agreement and shuts out numerous others who were not included in it.
Millions in Oil Spill Claims Suspended
The news of the company’s decision to shut down the oil spill claims program caught thousands of claimants by surprise. BP Vice President Geoff Morrell stated that the company closed the program due to the low number of oil spill claims made under the program and the federal Court-Supervised Settlement Program.
“Since the (Court Supervised Settlement Program) began operating in June 2012,” Mr. Morrell stated, “the majority of individual and business claims that have been filed have been submitted to the CSSP.”
Oil Spill Claims Program Closure Shuts Out Claimants
The company started the internal oil spill claims program in the summer of 2010, shortly after the oil spill, in accordance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The decision to close the internal program has left thousands of claimants out of options. Many of them did not choose to take part in the Court Supervised Settlement Program, under which BP has paid nearly $4 billion in claims to business owners affected by the disaster. While the company has stated that claimants’ rights to file claims will not be abridged by the decision, most claimants are not taking the company at their word.
Oil Spill Claims Settlement Still Controversial
A few weeks after the spill, victims witnessed a rush of BP advertisements and press releases in major newspapers that the company would pay all “legitimate claims”, many within 90 days. Nearly four years later, many of these oil spill claims have either gone ignored or been underpaid. Rather than pay the substantial claims against the company for one of the biggest man-made disasters in history, BP and its attorneys have continued to fight the terms of the Court Supervised Settlement Program imposed by the federal government, as well as the numerous lawsuits the company faces from individual home and business owners.
Oil Spill Claims and Lost Businesses
Thousands of businesses may be affected by BP’s shutdown of their internal oil spill claims settlement program. Dave Arnsby, once the owner of the Country Inn and Suites in Sarasota, Florida, lost one-quarter of his business during the oil spill and went into foreclosure less than a year later. The terms of the CSSP would only replace the hotel owner’s lost revenue during the spill, not the cost of losing the business he owned for a quarter-century. Mr. Arnsby opted to take part in the internal claims program to recover his losses. When he learned that the company was closing the program, he viewed it as a ploy to weaken future claimants.
“This (closure) is not about making it right for the businesses of the Gulf Coast,” he told a local TV station. “This is a strategy.”
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