BP Oil Spill Medical Benefits Settlement Appeal Dismissed by 5th Circuit; Program to Begin Providing Benefits Immediately

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dave Falkenstein (Sunshine Sachs) – (212) 691-2800 / Falkenstein@sunshinesachs.com

BP OIL SPILL MEDICAL BENEFITS SETTLEMENT APPEAL DISMISSED BY 5TH CIRCUIT; PROGRAM TO BEGIN PROVIDING BENEFITS IMMEDIATELY

[NEW ORLEANS] – Class Counsel leading the 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill litigation today announced that the Medical Benefits Settlement appeal has been dismissed by the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

The Settlement becomes effective as of February 12, 2014, paving the way for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast Residents and Clean-Up workers who experienced illness or injury from exposure to oil and chemical dispersants to get the treatment and compensation they need and deserve.

“The Medical Benefits Settlement will provide compensation to Clean-Up workers and Gulf Coast residents suffering from a wide range of Specified Physical Conditions; establish a twenty-one (21) year periodic medical consultation program, and; create a Gulf Region Health Outreach Program through a $105 million grant,” said Robin Greenwald and Matt Lundy, Class Counsel’s lead Medical Settlement negotiators. “Claimants eligible for the medical settlement include Clean-Up Workers and residents living in certain ‘Zone A’ (beachfront areas within one-half mile of the water) or ‘Zone B’ (wetlands areas within one mile of the water) residents. The medical settlement contains a back-end litigation provision, whereby claimants with later manifesting illnesses retain their right to sue BP for compensation at a later date.

Stephen J. Herman and James P. Roy, Plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Class Counsel said, “It’s been a long four years, but now hundreds of thousands of people will finally get the medical care and compensation they need. BP’s spill had not only a profound environmental and economic effect on the Gulf, but the oil and chemicals released took an enormous toll as well. We’re pleased that those affected will now be able to get their claims processed in a transparent and expeditious manner.”

The Specified Physical Condition Compensation Program provides cash payments for physical conditions associated with exposure to oil, such as respiratory problems, skin rashes and neurological issues. The full list of compensable conditions can be found in Exhibit 8 to the settlement agreement.

This Medical Consultation Program provides class members with a comprehensive medical evaluation once every three years for a 21-year period. Most treatment facilities will be located within 25 miles of eligible claimants.

Under the Back-End Litigation Option process, a Medical Class Member who develops a Later-Manifested Physical Condition and does not choose to pursue workers’ compensation benefits for that condition will be entitled to file suit against BP for that condition, provided that he or she complies with certain procedures and requirements set out in the Medical Benefits Settlement.

The Gulf Region Health Outreach Program (GRHOP) is a series of integrated, five-year projects designed to strengthen healthcare availability and capacity in 17 coastal counties and parishes from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle. Since funding through a $105-mill grant began in June 2012, GRHOP projects have provided the uninsured and medically underserved access to skilled healthcare providers, supported by networks of specialists in physical, environmental, behavioral and mental health fields.

The Primary Care Capacity Project to date has provided funds in the 17 coastal counties; developed and conducted clinic assessments for over 50 sites; and developed partnerships with state entities in the four GRHOP states to ensure the GRHOP supported clinics are ready to function in the health care reform environment.

The Mental and Behavioral Health Project (“MBHCP”) is providing supplemental integrated therapeutic services in several primary care facilities and has implemented supportive, strength-based services in 19 public schools and community-based organizations in Louisiana; established a permanent Integrated Health Disaster Program in four FQHCs in Mississippi; placed mental health professionals in the public school system to promote coordinated school care in Alabama, and; in the Florida Panhandle has established a relationship with the Santa Rosa County School District to integrate master’s level social worker students into the schools.

Further, the Environmental Health Capacity and Literacy Project has created and implemented a curriculum in partnership with another GRHOP project, the Community Health Worker Training Project, to train community health workers. GRHOP will continue to provide critically important health benefits to class members for another three years.

Eligibility and Application
There are several ways in which people might be eligible for benefits under the medical settlement agreement. All individuals who were clean-up workers during the oil spill response activities are class members and entitled to one or more of the settlement’s benefits, regardless of whether the individual had any physical injury from exposure to the oil. Another way in which a person might be a class member is if he or she lived in certain coastal zones in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or the Florida Panhandle during parts of 2010. The residential zones included in the medical settlement are described in Exhibit 9 and depicted in Exhibits 10 and 11 in the medical settlement.

To apply for benefits, people must fill out the proof of claim form, Exhibit 5 to the settlement agreement. In addition, all claimants are required to submit certain declarations to support their claim. The Claims Administrator and Class Counsel are available to respond to questions about the claims process.

More details can be found here: http://deepwaterhorizonmedicalsettlement.com/



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