Judge Barbier recently granted final approval to the medical benefits portion of the settlement reached between BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee last year. Previously, Judge Barbier granted preliminary approval of the settlement in May 2012. Writing in his 91-page opinion, Judge Barbier stated that without the settlement, “Plaintiffs face significant further expenses in time, money, and resources – with no assurance of recovery.”
While the economic settlement has gathered the majority of attention, the medical benefits settlement may be the most ground-breaking. The settlement provides up-front compensation for many claimants who suffered the common conditions and symptoms from exposure to oil and dispersant. In addition, the settlement provides for a free 21-year medical consultation program designed to monitor affected residents and cleanup workers suffering from spill conditions. Participants begin with a thorough baseline test, with follow-up visits every three years. The settlement also provides for a back-end litigation option, whereby claimants are allowed to file suit for compensatory damages against BP should they discover a later manifested illness caused by the oil spill.
In addition to claimant-specific remedies, the settlement will provide millions to the Gulf Coast to fund treatment and educational programs for those affected by the oil spill. All in all, the medical benefits settlement is yet another crowning achievement for the Gulf Coast oil spill litigation. If you need additional information on this settlement, contact Parker Miller, a lawyer in our firm, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Parker.Miller@beasleyallen.com.
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