There is great concern that Hurricane Isaac has caused oil to find its way back to the coastal communities and there has been significant re-oiling on Alabama and Mississippi beaches, as well as the marshlands of Louisiana. If the carbon print matches BP, this poses substantial problems to the current settlement and the viability of it getting through the court system, according to attorney Frederick Kuykendall of Alabama. He believes there is going to be a lot of judicial activity in the next few weeks seeking to adjourn the settlement and revisit the settlement to accomodate new problems.
The settlement has always had an ambitious schedule, causing people to complain how fast it was moving for a class suit this large, says Kuykendall. That schedule, he says, has changed slightly due to some efforts from non-class counsel with some cooperation from class counsel. Objections to the settlement now have to be made by September 7, which was extended due to Hurricane Isaac. The court anticipates so many objections, it has established a separate court docket to receive the objections and with 100+ objections already in, there's no telling how many there will end up being, Kuykendall says. Some objections will probably be from the storm and the new oil justifies the case be postponed or changes in deadlines can be made or the case not be approved at all, he notes.
Anyone contemplating opting out should not wait until the last minute, advises Kuykendall, as the procedures are more rigorous. The claims process is picking up speed and it is impossible to know how many claims are currently pending or determinations have been made, he says. A person has to decide to stay in a system not knowing what their relief is going to be or what the numbers will be before the opt-out date and Kuykendall believes this is "unfair," as it would be more sensible to allow for time to make a reasonable decision.
Kuykendall suggests that people who are affected by the new oil should call their lawyer to get advice on oil preservation near their property. It needs to get documented and sampled. Those without a lawyer need to take steps to document re-oiling and photos and videos, along with sampling, are good ways to do this.
Frederick T. Kuykendall III, of counsel to Farrell & Patel, P.A., is licensed to practice in Alabama, as well as before the United States Supreme Court Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts, and the third, fifth, and eleventh circuit courts of the United States. He is currently a strategic counsel to Murphy, Falcon and Murphy PA in Baltimore, Md., and the founding member of The Law Offices of Frederick T. Kuykendall III in Mobile, Ala. He is also a featured commentator with The Legal Broadcast Network, providing on-demand legal video content.