BP settlement with plaintiffs could be worth more than $7.8 billion

While there is not even ink yet to dry on a proposed agreement between the Plaintiff Steering Committee and BP to settle the Deepwater Horizon litigation, both sides are trying to put out misunderstandings in the week and a half since the settlement was announced.

“Contrary to what some news outlets have implied, the Settlement has no cap or limit,” the Plaintiff Steering Committee said in a written statement issued late on Friday afternoon.

At the time of the original announcement, the settlement was estimated by BP at approximately $7.8 billion, which matches the estimate BP gave its fourth quarter 2011 report of $7.825 for outstanding litigation and claims.

The committee is emphasizing the terms of the new settlement will be more generous to plaintiffs than the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which has shelled out approximately $6.1 billion for more than 200,000 claims filed since August 2010, according to BP.

It is unknown how many plaintiffs remain, leading some to question the accuracy of settlement amount estimates.

The settlement process is also designed to be more transparent, using a consistent process and formula for all claims, according to the committee. The details of this formula are still unknown, but both sides are stressing that it will not be designed to mislead plaintiffs about the value of their claim.

“Claimants, their accountants, and their lawyers will know the compensation formulas and will be able to calculate compensation for specific claims before deciding whether to opt-out or participate in the settlement,” the committee said.

The committee also clarified that there have been no discussion of attorney fees, but officials expect that any fees will be paid by BP in addition to the amount of the settlement.

In order to reach a final agreement, the settlement must be authorized by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who has overseen the multi-district litigation regarding the April 20 Macondo Well explosion and who was scheduled to oversee the trial in New Orleans.