Home » Business Disputes » Litigation Strategy, Be Careful What You Ask For … You May Get It. Just ask BP.

Litigation Strategy, Be Careful What You Ask For … You May Get It. Just ask BP.

Confronted with claims by thousands of plaintiffs across the Gulf Coast seeking billions of dollars in damages, on the eve of the MDL trial in New Orleans on liability for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP settled with two classes of plaintiffs. BP estimated the value of that settlement at $9.2 billion.

Thereafter, with settlement and other costs mounting, BP reversed course, arguing that the settlement agreement was fatally flawed in allowing people who were not injured by the spill to collect payments. In particular, BP argued, the agreement’s settlement class violates Article III of the Constitution and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 by including members who have not suffered an injury caused by the defendant. This despite the fact that (i) BP touted the agreed-upon standard of assumed causation when it originally sought the district court’s approval of the deal and (ii) others, like Halliburton, voiced this very concern with causation at the time.

In response to BP’s challenge, the plaintiffs suggested, among other things, that BP was merely suffering from buyer’s remorse from a deal to which it freely agreed. According to the plaintiffs, BP agreed to the deal, pushed for the district court to approve the deal, and never timely appealed any issue regarding the lack of a causation requirement.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court denied BP’s bid to overturn the deal it struck with the plaintiffs in 2012. It would seem BP is stuck with what it asked for, even though the pricetag turned out to be more than the $9.2 billion it predicted.

BP Exploration & Production, Inc. v. Lake Eugenie Land & Development, Inc. (Case No. 14-123)


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