It has been well over four years since the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster and two years since BP agreed to an as-then described “claimant friendly” compensation program meant to efficiently and expeditiously pay for business losses associated with the blowout. When announcing the Settlement in 2012, BP’s CEO, Bob Dudley, proudly proclaimed:
“BP made a commitment to help economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast, and this settlement provides the framework for us to continue delivering on that promise, offering those affected full and fair compensation, without waiting for the outcome of a lengthy trial process.”
Mr. Dudley’s chief legal counsel, Rick Godfrey, continued the company’s praise of the agreement:
“The settlement is placing large sums of money today and tomorrow and next week into the hands and the communities of the Gulf, the victims of this tragic event. We believe that it’s fair, just and reasonable, and that this process should not be interrupted or stopped based upon the objections of the few for the purpose of injuring the many who need to be compensated now.”
What is now painfully clear to claimants and those attorneys and CPA’s assisting in the preparation of claims, is that BP’s management said all of this with fingers crossed behind their backs. Because of BP’s largely unsuccessful appeals and attacks on its own Settlement Agreement, very little money has been paid in the past nine months.
As bad, BP has placed the fear of God into claimants and Claims Administration vendors tasked with processing claims, by threatening to appeal any awards where every “t” and “i” is not crossed and dotted to the nth degree. The process has devolved into a bureaucratic quagmire that rivals those of the worst government agencies. Documentation requests, often superfluous and frequently erroneous, boggle claimants and their legal counsel alike. The delays are becoming legion.
And with the newly required implementation of Policy 495, things will only get worse. Two years into the payment program, an additional 88 pages of accounting methodologies have been added to the rule book. Policy 495, known as “matching,” will require Claims Administration vendors to rework all of their formulas, spreadsheets and systems in order to implement the new rules. All claims not already paid will then have to be reevaluated under the new systems.
So while the Supreme Court of the United States recently refused BP’s request to stay payments, the reality is that very few claims will be paid in the near to intermediate term as these logistical issues get worked out. In fact, many observers opine that it will be 2015 before payments resume in earnest, leaving claimants twisting in the wind.