Houston-based Halliburton Energy Services – a subcontractor on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig – has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle claims from coastal businesses that were damaged from the 2010 rig explosion and oil spill.
The settlement, announced Sept. 1, will be available to individual and business owners who are already part of the BP economic and property damage settlement as well as those who are not.
Another group that may be eligible for the Halliburton settlement are those individuals, businesses or government entities seeking punitive damages.
Some claimants may be members of both settlement groups, according to a press release from the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee.
"Halliburton stepped up to the plate and agreed to provide a fair measure of compensation to people and businesses harmed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy," co-lead plaintiffs' attorneys, Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy, said in the release.
The members of the punitive damages class could including commercial and charter fishermen who were in business between April 20, 2009, and April 18, 2012; property owners, businesses and local governments who had oil touch their real estate or personal property between April 20, 2009, and April 18, 2012; and individuals who fished or hunted in certain areas for subsistence, barter or trade.
The settlement comes at a time when a federal judge is preparing to make a ruling on how to assign blame for the oil spill.
U.S. Judge Carl Barbier already conducted a non-jury trial in New Orleans last year to determine if actions by BP, Transocean and Halliburton leading up to the explosion of the rig and the following oil spill constitute gross negligence.
Gross negligence would mean the companies could be liable for punitive damages.
Barbier already ruled that because under the contract between BP and Halliburton, BP would be liable for any compensatory damages claimed against Halliburton.
The news of the Halliburton settlement brought out a response from BP.
“This settlement marks the very first time -- despite three years of official investigations and litigation implicating the company -- that Halliburton has acknowledged that it played a role in the accident,” a BP spokesman said in an email to Bloomberg news on Sept. 1