The Louisiana Hospital Association (LHA) has asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to approve a $130 million medical treatment settlement BP PLC agreed to with a class of 200,000 cleanup workers from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. LHA told the court that the parties would benefit by avoiding a lengthy trial. The amicus brief filed by LHA, an organization representing 160 hospitals across the state of Louisiana, comes two months after a small number of objectors told the Fifth Circuit that the settlement was unfair. The objections claimed that a lower court disregarded U.S. Supreme Court decisions when it certified the settlement class. Four appellants urged the appeals court to revoke Judge Carl Barbier’s January approval of the settlement. This is one of two primary class action settlements in multidistrict litigation over the offshore rig explosion and massive oil spill.
LHA, which represents the majority of the hospitals in Louisiana that would treat most of the class members seeking medical treatment, says the settlement is fair to the class and should be approved. LHA said in its brief:
BP and the settlement class have come to a fair, reasonable, and adequate solution in settlement whereby BP agrees to pay class members for medical treatment and potential conditions that may arise later. Setting aside a settlement agreed to by class members who are giving up the filing of individual law suits which are costly, and the potential for punitive damage awards against British Petroleum, would not be logical.
LHA added that society and the class are the winners in the settlement and that the trial court was correct in its findings and that its order should be affirmed. Under the settlement, the class was defined as consisting of three categories of claimants:
The class members were exposed to oil from the spill or to several volatile and toxic chemicals that were carried through the air, including oil dispersants, that have been linked to ailments including leukemia and other cancers. The terms of the settlement call for BP to pay $105 million toward a so-called Gulf Region Health Outreach Program that will go to providing grants to health institutions in the Gulf Coast region, as well as to maintain at least $10 million in a revolving medical claims fund and to set up a $15 million fund for administering payments. The case is In re: Deepwater Horizon in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Sources: David McAfee and Law360.com
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