BP Business Claims Halted
BP Business Claims Halted for Calculation Reviews
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans directed Judge Barbier, to halt payouts on some BP Business Claims. BP asked the court to make the halt because they believe the Deepwater Horizon Claims Administrator, Patrick Juneau, has misinterpreted the settlement agreement and has been calculating business claims incorrectly.
Until recently, BP has unsuccessfully attempted to get the settlement agreement rewritten. On October 2nd, they were finally able to get business claim payments frozen so that the accountant calculation methods can be reviewed to make sure that Juneau is closely following the language of the settlement agreement. BP believes the current calculation methods allow claimants to receive payments that are too large, and that payments are being made to businesses that were not affected by the oil spill. BP wants businesses to submit their financials on an accrual basis for BP business claims. This is not required under the settlement at this time. They are concerned that revenues should be reported on accrued basis and not when payment was received.
In October BP had questioned the settlement in regards to how they are processing cash based accounting claims. Because the settlement does not specify that a certain accounting method must be used they have always accepted whatever the claimant had consistently used. BP did not file any complaints at that time. Again in November BP supported the final approval of the settlement guidelines and seemed to be happy with the way claims were processing. They signed this document and should not be able to add or take away from it. In December BP started expressing their concerns to the Administrator. After two failed attempts to change the settlement BP has gone to the Appeals court. On October 2nd they finally won and the settlement is being looked at again.
I believe that if we re-write the already signed and executed settlement we are opening a can of worms that could potentially cause even more delays in settlements being paid. If BP gets the chance to change the settlement then someone needs to be fighting to get the dreaded and impossible customer mix test thrown out. If businesses are going to have to go and change their accounting from cash to accrual basis then will they still be considered contemporaneously kept documentation? If BP gets the chance to spread income over a period of months does that mean people can take their yearly income and expenses and divide them by 12 to complete their profit and losses? Why does BP get to rewrite the settlement and retail stores and restaurants who are obviously tourist driven fall short of qualifying due to the fact they cannot account for 100% of their income by name and address?
BP has yet again figured out a way to screw the Gulf Coast residents, delay payments and earn a little extra interest on the funds that still have not been paid out to those who deserve it. BP should be stuck with what they signed and shame on the appeals court for allowing them to weasel more time to delay payments.
BP has won this round, but in the end, the people of the Gulf who were so devastatingly affected should receive the payments they deserve.
Although this is bad news for some claimants, we believe people that were not affected by the spill should not be able to receive compensation. As much damage as BP has caused, we know that some claimants and attorneys are working the system for all its worth.
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What does this mean for existing BP business claims?
We don’t know yet exactly what the new calculation changes are going to be, but we do know if given the chance BP will continue to try and change things to help themselves not the Gulf Coast Residents they screwed over three years ago. We will all have to wait and see what BP, the Plantiff Steering Committee and Juneau come up with next.
By: W.C. Bohack