Judge Grants Tentative Approval to $7.8 Billion BP Oil Spill Settlement

Published by Rhonda Miller on 02 May 2012 07:23pm
A federal judge in New Orleans granted preliminary approval Wednesday to a proposed settlement of $7.8 billion in BP oil spill claims. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the decision affects thousands of Mississippi residents and businesses.

Standing on the porch of his Ocean Springs home, fisherman Anthony Pizzi says he has not been able to earn a living oystering or shrimping since the oil spill. Now, at 54 years old, he’s wondering if he will ever be able to go back to fishing.

“I had to sell my 55-foot boat really cheap to survive, with bills and food.”

Pizzi says his claim with BP for loss of income was denied several times by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which does not exist any more. Pizzi says now his claim is part of the proposed settlement given tentative approval by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans.

“Been watching the news, waiting for the judge to sign off on the suit, and then, hopefully, we’ll find out the legalities of what they’re going to offer us. But besides that, we don’t know what the paperwork means or what they’re offering us.”

That’s no surprise to Ocean Springs Attorney Robert Wiygul, whose firm is representing hundreds of clients in the BP oil spill litigation. Wiygul says the proposed settlement is 1,000 pages long.

“It’s important for people to recognize that this settlement is set up as a class action, and if you’re part of that class, and that would include business owners for example, or owners of coastal property, or fishermen, you’re going to be in that class unless you make the decision to get out of it.”

Wiygul says some groups are not included in the proposed settlement, like oil rig and casino workers. He says those claims will have to resolved through other legal action. Wiygul says he expects BP oil spill lawsuits to go on for many years.

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