BON SECOUR, Alabama -- BP has agreed to pay 7.8 billion dollars to settle a class action lawsuit involving individuals and businesses damaged by the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history. One one of those individuals is Tracy Redding. "In the end do I think we will end up closer to whole than we are, probably. But there is still so many unanswered questions."
The money will be paid from the 20 billion dollars already set aside to fund Kenneth Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility. The break down according to BP is as follows: Two point three billion is dedicated to the seafood industry, $100 million will cover health concerns, attorneys will divide 468 million in legal fees, the remaining money will go to settle claims.
But according to claimants attorney Steve Olen there is no cap on the settlement figure so it could go much higher. "BP will pay whatever it takes to pay for the settlement depending on the new claims process."
Under the agreement, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility will go away. The claims process will now will be court supervised. "It is a very good development," says Olen. "It's a much better compensation program for most damaged by the oil spill."
Anyone who has not signed a final release is still eligible to be compensated through this new claims process.
For Tracy Redding who has spent the last 18 months filing notebooks full of documents there is renewed hope that this new process will work where Feinberg failed. "I'm hoping the new process will really start to move in six months. If it doesn't take care of people in that amount of time, myself included, we're in real financial trouble."
Two things to remember: This is only a partial settlement in the case. The deal does not cover federal and state government lawsuits or environmental damage and this all has to be approved by the court before it is a done deal.