A recent Bloomberg story, “$138 Million in Attorneys’ Fees for Gulf Spill,” reports that BP must pay $138 million in legal fees in a settlement with the U.S. government and five Gulf states over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That figure, contained in the filing in the case, represents fees for the suits, and is separate from the fees in the civil suits brought by individual and businesses hurt by the devastating oil spill.
According to the filing, five states are set to receive a portion of the fees. Alabama will receive $10 million, Florida $52 million, Louisiana $20 million, Mississippi $5 million, and Texas $1 million.
The fees going to the states will help supplement legal budgets that have been slashed. Alabama, for example, will use its share of the fees “to fill a hole in our current budget created by a funding shortfall from the Alabama legislature,” the state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, said in a statement.
In addition, several regional firms are receiving fees; the bulk of the remainder — $40 million — goes to the “Co-Liaison Counsel, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, and all other attorneys who performed legal services for the common and collective benefit,” according to the filing.
The settlement is the largest in the department’s history and resolves the government’s civil claims under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act, as well as economic damage claims from regional authorities, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement Monday.
The pact is designed “to not only compensate for the damages and provide for a way forward for the health and safety of the Gulf, but let other companies know they are going to be responsible for the harm that occurs should accidents like this happen in the future,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters at a briefing in Washington.
BP’s total settlement cost of $18.7 billion announced in July didn’t include some reimbursements, interest payments and committed expenditures for early restoration of damages to natural resources.
The London-based company has set aside a total of $53.7 billion to pay for the disaster in 2010, when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).