NEW ORLEANS, LA – On Friday, October 15, 2010 at a status conference for the BP oil spill, an attorney for BP was unable to make a definitive stance on whether the company would try to limit its liability payout to the $75 million cap provided by the Oil Pollution Act (OPA). The conference was being held in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana in New Orleans, LA at the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation (MDL) hearing. At the hearing, BP attorney, Don Haycraft, told the court that they would “pay all legitimate claims.”
When questioned by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier if that statement had a footnote “up to $75 million,” Haycraft said that he was “not prepared to respond to that specific question in that context.” This prompted a response by plaintiff’s attorney, Steve Herman, who said that he and other plaintiff attorneys were “shocked” when they heard the defense bring up the $75 million cap and that they were under the impression that the cap was waived.
Judge Barbier said that the failure to assert whether BP would rely on the cap to limit their liability claims went against testimony he has already heard from defense counsel in hearings, in the press, and in meetings in his chambers.
Judge Barbier instructed BP’s counsel to consult with their client (BP) and to produce a written statement within seven days clarifying their position on this matter.