In a move that goes against repeated statements to the press and in court, BP lawyers were unable to make a definitive stance on whether the company would try to limit their liability payout to the $75 million cap mandated by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA).
Speaking at a status conference for the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation (MDL) hearing in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana in New Orleans, BP attorney Don Haycraft emphasized BP's stance that they would "pay all legitimate claims."
When Barbier asked if that statement had a footnote "up to $75 million," Haycraft said that he was "not prepared to respond to that specific question in that context."
Plaintiff attorney Steve Herman, who is part of the plaintiff steering committee, said that he and other plaintiff attorneys were "shocked" when they heard the defense bring up the $75 million cap.
Barbier said that the failure to assert whether BP would rely on the cap to limit their liability claims goes against testimony he's heard from defense counsel in the press, in hearings and in meetings in his chambers. Barbier instructed BP's counsel to consult with their client and have a written statement about their position within seven days.
Later in the hearing, it was disclosed that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had already paid out more than $1.43 billion in claims, the majority of which were related to OPA. All statistics regarding claims payments are open to the public at www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com.