In the two years since the BP Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement was approved by Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, British Petroleum has appealed the implementation of the Settlement itself (“global appeals”) as well as thousands of individual settlement awards made to businesses and employees. The BP claims appeal process is governed by Section 6 of the Settlement Agreement and further implemented by the Appeals Coordinator through the Rules Governing the Appeals Process.
The time for one or both parties to take an appeal varies with the claim value at issue, with larger claims being appealable within twenty days of notice and smaller within ten. Claims valued at less than $1 million are decided by one appeal panelist, where claims contesting amounts over $1 million are heard by a panel of three. Before a claimant can file an appeal from an eligibility notice or a denial of his BP claim, the claimant must seek reconsideration or re-review from the Claims Administrator.
BP pays a penalty of 5% pre-risk transfer premium (RTP) for any appeal that the company loses. Unfortunately, this modest penalty is usually not sufficient to deter BP from filing frivolous appeals, in which the company usually puts forth nonsensical arguments that are contrary to the terms of the Settlement Agreement’s requirements. The most common frivolous BP appeals involve erroneous arguments about the classification of various line item expenses as “fixed” or “variable,” the application of Policy 495 (the so-called “matching” issue), revenue “smoothing,” and exclusions.
Many laypeople, worn down by years of BP’s delays and in desperate need of funds, choose to take BP’s customary low ball offer rather than fight for what is rightfully owing. If your BP claim has been denied or BP has appealed an eligibility notice offering you pennies on the dollar, now is the time to hire an attorney, as the BP appeals process is no place for the layperson.