NEW ORLEANS -- A tentative multi-billion dollar agreement has been reached between BP and the plaintiffs over the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, according to BP and documents filed in federal court in New Orleans.
Attorneys for BP and the plaintiffs had been meeting with Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan, as they worked to come to an agreement involving various claims.
"Judge Shushan has now advised the Court that Plaintiffs' counsel and counsel for BP have reached an agreement on the terms of a proposed class settlement, which will be submitted to the Court for approval," wrote U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.
Late Friday night, BP announced the estimated $7.8 billion dollar settlement will be paid from the already-established $20 billion trust.
"We are extremely pleased to bring justice to those harmed by the BP Gulf Oil Spill. This settlement will provide a full measure of compensation to hundreds of thousands," said Stephen Herman and James Roy, the Plaintiffs' Co-Liaison Counsel, said in joint statement. "It does the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people."
The settlement would resolve economic losses and medical claims stemming from the oil spill. The settlement would also resolve medical claims for "certain manifested physical conditions" and a 21-year "medical consultation program" for those who qualify, according to BP.
The settlement does not include claims made by the U.S. Department of Justice or other federal agencies, which could have claims under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act.
"The proposed settlement represents significant progress towards resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast," BP Group CEO Bob Dudley said in a statement.
Included in the $7.8 billion proposed settlement are $2.3 billion dollars for resolving economic losses related to the Gulf seafood industry. According to BP, the $20 billion trust was set up to cover not just claims from individuals and businesses, but also state and local government claims, natural resource damages and final judgments and settlements.
"It is not possible at this time to determine whether the $20 billion trust will be sufficient to satisfy all these claims, as well as those under the proposed settlement," BP said in their statement Friday night.
BP also said the proposed settlement provides for a transition from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, administered by Ken Feinberg. A court-supervised "transitional claims process" would be put into place while a new settlement claims process is set up.
The oil spill trial was set to begin on Monday. However, in his order issued Friday, Judge Barbier postponed the oil spill trial, writing, "Because such a settlement would like result in a realignment of the parties in this litigation and require substantial changes... to the trial plan."
It is the second delay for the oil spill trial, which was set to take place in three phases, over the course of months. No new trial date has been set.
The trial comes as the two year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill approaches. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf, 70 miles off the coast of Venice, Louisiana. Eleven people were killed and more than 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf, making it the worst environmental accident in the nation's history.
View the court order.