“The fee, subject to court approval, will be paid by BP, and compensate common benefit work performed to date, as well as the work class counsel will perform over the life of the settlement program,” according to “>one of the motions filed Wednesday before New Orleans federal district court judge Carl Barbier. Another filing notes that under the terms of the proposed deal, the PSC will seek an interim award of $75 million and additional payments equal to 6 percent of class claims, up to the $600 million limit.
Since BP is promising to cover fees and costs for class counsel, the PSC said it will ask Judge Barbier to scrap his existing order that other plaintiffs lawyers with claims in the case–including those who had decided to spurn the MDL in favor of Kenneth Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility–have to hold back 6 percent of their clients’ take for common benefit fees. That, said Tony Buzbee of the Buzbee Law firm, will likely take “the fire out of the bellies” of lawyers who objected to the holdback provision and the settlement as a whole. Buzbee told us last month that he was considering advising his clients to opt out of the settlement, in part because of the holdback; now he says he’ll tell them to join the class and take the deal.
“I think it was smartly done,” Buzbee said Wednesday, noting that participating in the class settlement will not delay payments already underway through the Feinberg process. “If they could have convinced BP to give them a billion dollars, God bless them as long as it doesn’t come out of my clients’ pockets,” Buzbee said. He added that he believes BP’s potential payout under the settlement could be as much as three times the going estimate.
“The people and businesses of the Gulf Coast stand to reap great benefits from these settlements,” said plaintiffs co-liaison counsel Stephen Herman of Herman Herman Katz & Cotlar and James Roy of Domengeaux Wright Roy & Edwards in a statement. “We have held BP fully accountable for the Deepwater Horizon tragedy less than two years after the spill.” Herman and Roy moved Wednesday for appointment as class counsel along with all 17 firms on the PSC.
BP is represented in the MDL by Arnold & Porter, SNR Denton, Kirkland & Ellis, Liskow & Lewis, and Covington & Burling. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the company said that the “settlement demonstrates BP’s continued progress in resolving significant issues related to the Deepwater Horizon accident.”