After approximately five years, the litigation surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill seems to be reaching a conclusion. The company responsible, BP, has reached a tentative settlement of $18.7 billion with both the federal government and five Gulf Coast state governments. The parties in the settlement are the state governments of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, as well as over 400 smaller government bodies. The settlement is to be dispersed over a 16-year period.
At a press conference with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, State Attorney General Buddy Cadwell announced that $6.8 billion provided to the state was preferable to a protracted trial.
Settlement is a valid and often preferred method of litigation resolution. It is a compromise between the parties. In civil law jurisdictions, like Louisiana, a compromise is an agreement through which the parties involved end or prevent litigation through mutual agreement. A valid compromise has four requirements: existing litigation, an agreement between the parties involved, reciprocal concessions between the parties which are given with intention of ending or preventing current or future litigation between them.
BP’s group chief executive Bob Dudley released a statement which included the sentiment that the compromise provided “a realistic outcome which provides clarity and certainty for all parties.” The settlement preempts multiple individual state trials that were scheduled to begin early next year.
Specifics of the settlement can be viewed here: BP Settlement