The Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Program (Settlement Program) continues to make significant progress since it opened in June 2012. As of January, it has resolved 90 percent of the nearly 388,000 claims filed and paid almost $9.7 billion to eligible claimants. Of the 10 percent of claims remaining, only 1.6 percent have not been reviewed. Processing continues to pick up in pace as Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau seeks to resolve all claims by the end of the year. Statistics released from his office illustrate the progress made and work that remains:
• Business Economic Loss Claims comprised nearly 35 percent of the claims filed and received the lion’s share of the payments, totaling to more than $6.3 billion.
• The Seafood Compensation Program was allotted $2.3 billion and is reserved for commercial fishermen. More than $2.2 billion has been paid to 5,357 claimants. Residual payments of this fund have also been made, completing the review of these claims.
• Individual Economic Loss claimants (i.e. lost wage claims) have been paid $90.4 million.
• Subsistence claimants received $296 million. Unlike other claims which can corroborated by third party documentation, subsistence claims are based on a claimant’s sworn testimony. This necessarily requires a thorough investigation and follow-up interviews with claimants to confirm the accuracy of the information. Despite these hurdles, only 1.1 percent of these claims is still under review.
• The review of Coastal Real Property and Real Property Sales claims has been completed, with payments totaling $160.5 million and $40.5 million, respectively. Nearly 12 percent of the Wetlands Real Property claims are still under review while the other 88 percent have received $204.4 million.
These statistics show the impressive job Claims Administrator Juneau has done in overseeing and implementing the largest private settlement claims process. Sifting through the sheer volume of claims while simultaneously addressing the concerns of both claimants and BP is no small feat. As the Settlement Program nears its fifth year of operation, all parties are ready to move on to the Halliburton and Transocean Settlements.
At this point, not all of the details are known about how these settlements will be implemented. The Halliburton and Transocean Settlement Program will distribute $1,239,750,000 according to the Claims Administrator’s Distribution Model, which was approved by Judge Carl Barbier on Feb. 15, 2017. This model will pay a vast majority of these funds (72.8 percent) to “New Class” claimants, which includes owners whose property was physically oiled, local governments, entities who opted out of the BP settlement, and those who submitted certain BP claims (coastal wetlands, fishermen, subsistence, and property claims). The remaining funds will go to “Old Class” members, which include hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals who previously filed claims and were compensated under the BP settlement.
Most payments will be distributed pro rata and will be based on what was received in the BP settlement. As a result, the BP Settlement Program should wrap up before the Halliburton and Transocean Settlement Program can get underway.
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