Unanswered Questions Remain for Those in the Seafood Industry Regarding the BP Oil Spill Settlement

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On the 3rd of March 2012, BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee of the federal lawsuit filed in New Orleans announced a settlement of certain claims associated with the BP Oil Spill of 2010. While that settlement addresses a broad commitment by BP to settle claims of economic injury to those in the Gulf seafood industry, the details of how to accomplish that settlement with thousands of potential claimants have not yet been disclosed. "I know less about the fate of my clients' claims today than I did four days ago," says attorney J. Christopher Dean of Dean Law Firm in Houston, Texas.

BP and the PSC have a real chance to do the right thing and bring resolution to an unprecedented disaster.

Dean Law Firm represents dozens of clients in the seafood industry with millions of dollars of economic losses. Dean has not filed any lawsuits against BP to date, which means he is not associated with the Plaintiffs Steering Committee in New Orleans. "My clients and I agreed to give the settlement process a full measure of opportunity."

Dean has vigorously pursued settlement for his clients with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is headed by Washington, D.C. attorney Kenneth Feinberg. "The day this settlement was announced, I had a fully developed stock of claims awaiting final determination by the GCCF. Now, it appears GCCF has been fired." Based on the joint press release of BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC), there will be a new claims process managed by the PSC. "I am fully prepared to adapt to a new way of looking at claims, but I need to see the play book first." The parties to the settlement are to propose those new rules and guidelines for calculating losses to the federal district judge within the next several weeks.

Dean stresses that no one has settled his clients' claims. "I am not a part of any lawsuit yet. Once I see what BP and the PSC propose to the judge, I can then handicap whether the new play book is in the best interest of my clients." This means that Dean's clients appear to have a right to "opt out" of the recently announced settlement and pursue a lawsuit against responsible parties. Dean says, "The decision to opt in or out involves an analysis of wild cards. I am already holding aces. The wild cards are the fairness of claims calculation in the face of very real long term damage to the seafood industry and the fairness of fees charged by the PSC to process those claims."

Dean also questions the breakdown of the announced settlement. "It appears about one third of the settlement amount is dedicated to the seafood industry. To me, that is like showing up with five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand." According to the joint press release and other sources, approximately $2.3 billion of the the $7.8 billion settlement is dedicated to the seafood industry economic losses. Dean notes, however, that BP apparently has agreed that there will be new money available should the current amount be insufficient for restitution to the seafood industry.

Nevertheless, Dean remains hopeful that the new settlement process will be successful. "BP and the PSC have a real chance to do the right thing and bring resolution to an unprecedented disaster."

The Dean Law Firm is currently accepting interviews regarding the BP Oil Spill and the current cases regarding dozens of clients in the seafood industry. If you would like to contact the Dean Law Firm for media inquiries, please contact the Dean Law Firm Representative, Monica Baines, at paralegal(at)jamesdeanlaw(dot)com or by phone at 281-280-8900.

Dean Law Firm Contact Information:
17225 El Camino Real, Suite 190
Houston, Texas 77058
Toll Free: 855-280-8900

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James Christopher Dean

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