It’s been just over three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but, for BP, the litigation may just be beginning.
In the past several weeks, the oil company has been hit with a flurry of more than 2,200 new lawsuits, most of them brought under the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which has a three-year statute of limitations that expired on April 20.
BP says it will attempt to have these new lawsuits consolidated into an ongoing trial based in New Orleans. The first phase of that trial ended earlier this month, and U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is currently considering how to divide blame for the spill among BP and its drilling partners, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. The judge is also set to rule if any of the three defendants acted with gross negligence in connection with the spill, which could quadruple the amount of penalties they would pay under the Clean Water Act.
BP has already set aside $20 billion to settle spill-related claims, but the company recently announced that only $1.7 billion of that total is still unassigned, Thomson Reuters reports. The oil giant has already revised the estimated cost of a settlement with individuals and businesses affected by the spill from $7.8 billion to $8.2 billion—not including claims that have yet to be filed or processed.
For more InsideCounsel coverage of the ongoing BP saga, see: