Less than 24 hours before the first day of trial was scheduled to begin in the BP Oil Spill lawsuits, the parties filed a joint statement requesting a delay in the start of trial to allow for continued settlement talks. News agencies have reported rumors of settlement sums that could amount to a $14 billion-dollar settlement in the works, to compensate the thousands of people and businesses affected by this disaster.
The BP Oil Spill was a devastating environmental disaster which occurred almost two (2) years ago, on April 20, 2010, after an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent oil spill, approximately 130 miles southeast of New Orleans and approximately 50 miles from the Mississippi River Delta. The explosion killed eleven of the 126 workers on the rig, which eventually sank in approximately 5,000 feet of water. An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed endlessly for nearly 3-months from the mile-deep Macondo oil well.
Lawsuits involving more than 120,000 plaintiffs have been coordinated for consolidated proceedings in a New Orleans District Court, presiding before Judge Carl Barbier. Those involved in the lawsuit range from condominium owners, fisherman, hoteliers, restaurants, homeowners, property owners and others who say their livelihoods were damaged by the April 20, 2010 disaster.
BP has publicly accepted responsibility for the disaster. Company sources have estimated its legal fees and cleanup costs for the spill amount to sums in excess of $40 billion-dollars and could reach up to $60 billion-dollars, especially if there is a finding that BP’s activities at the project site were “grossly negligent.”
The BP Oil Spill is said to be the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. The oil was reported to have come ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. The environmental damage as well as the hit on tourism and economy is so widespread, that its full impact on the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Americans, especially those living and owning businesses in or near the Gulf, may remain undetermined for years.
The trial is now scheduled to take place on March 5, 2012 should settlement negotiations fail between the parties.