The BP Settlement reached in March and filed with the Court this last week for preliminary approval applies to tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents and businesses who potentially have claims against BP for damages and loss suffered in the wake of the April 20, 2010 oil spill. The BP Settlement offers those individuals a clear procedure through which to have their claims evaluated and resolved.
It is presumed that all class members will be bound by the Settlement, unless they specifically choose not to be. In other words, no one is required to consent to the terms of the settlement; the BP Settlement includes what is called an “opt out” procedure for those eligible class members who prefer not to be bound by the terms of the Settlement.
Attorneys for BP and the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee have proposed that beginning May 3 a major notice program will be undertaken to alert all interested individuals about the Settlement and its terms. October 1 has been proposed as the date that individuals who wish to opt out must do so.
Opting out means that an individual or entity will not be able to make any claims for any of the categories covered in the Settlement but will also not be bound by the releases included in the Settlement. In other words, an individual who opts-out before the deadline is free to pursue individual litigation against BP.