BP has changed their view on the settlement, which is highly unusual, says Rick Kuykendall, attorney in Alabama. BP began a campaign back in January to challenge many of the interpretations the claims administrator had placed on a 1,400 page agreement.
Procedurally, says Kuykendall, it's a complicated matter. BP has attacked the judge's rulings in upholding the claims administrator on multiple occasions and they currently have a case pending in the fifth circuit court of appeals. The case has been argued and is currently under submission, with a decision to come at any time.
According to Kuykendall, in class actions, people who improperly object have the right to make an appeal. Here, there were some appeals by the underlying judgement and by disgruntled plaintiffs. It is highly unusual that at the end of the process, BP would have a falling out. Usually, he says, they're joined at the hip at this point to get the deal done.
As BP is dissatisfied with te manner in which the administrator has implemented the settlement, BP has decided to jump on the back of the plaintiff objectors, says Kuykendall. He says BP's position is that the deal they negotiated was fair but no longer is under the interpretation of the administrator. BP is now trying to undo the deal it negotiated.
When looking at this whole thing in total, Kuykendall says the claims administrator was dealing with hundreds of thousands of claims and overseeing an army of claims handlers, making this whole process very complicated.
The exclusions and opt-outs, which are the cases that were not included in the settlement, have just been brought back to New Orleans, after a July review by a multi-district panel in Portland, Maine.
Kuykendall believes an opinion on this new twist will be forthcoming by the end of the year but notes that unless BP resolves this, this can go on for years.
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.