Individual cases begin to settle prior to BP Deepwater Horizon trial

Kyle Barnett Feb. 21, 2012, 6:28am

NEW ORLEANS – Recent settlements in BP Deepwater Horizon litigation have led to speculation that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is making moves to limit the case before it goes to trial on Monday, Feb. 27.

Although only four litigants have so far reached settlements, some expect a flurry of activity.

The latest settlement was with offshore worker Oleander Benton.

Benton was injured in the initial explosion that set off a chain of events that would leave the open oil well spewing into the Gulf for months to come. There are around 40 other work-related injury and wrongful death lawsuits in the case.

Earlier this month Weatherford International, maker of a float collar used in the botched cement cap job by Halliburton, was dismissed from the case entirely. Weatherford had come to an earlier settlement with BP for $75 million.

Late last year blowout preventer manufacturer Cameron International Corporation settled with BP for $250 million.

MOEX Offshore, who held a 10 percent stake in the well, settled out-of-court with BP for $1 billion. MOEX also made a landmark settlement concerning their partial stake in Clean Water Act violations aimed at restoring environmental conditions in five Gulf Coast states.

In that case, MOEX was required to pay $45 million in civil penalties to the federal government and a total of $25 million combined to Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. The company was also ordered to pay $20 million for land acquisition projects.

In October 2011, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation became the first to settle in the case by handing over its 25 percent stake in the well to BP in exchange for BP taking on all litigants with claims against the company. The move cost Anadarko $4 billion.

Officials at BP have stated in other reports that it is open to settling reasonable claims, which would seem to put the onus on the plaintiff steering committee to ultimately get the job done by lowering their requested settlement claims.

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