BP recently announced a $7.8 billion settlement proposal in the Gulf oil spill. One of the attorneys on the National Plaintiff’s Steering Committee-Florida’s Ervin Gonzalez-talked to us about the deal hammered out with the oil company through intense negotiations.
“It doesn’t get much better than this,” says Gonzalez, with Colson Hicks Eidson. “Anyone on the Gulf side who had a business related to tourism or fishing, boating, restaurants–anything at all related–has the right to full compensation for the damage they received.”
And it doesn’t stop at economic reimbursement. “Those who lived around the areas of the oil or the chemical dispersants qualify for medical benefits that include diagnostic, medical care, and medical surveillance for 21 years,” Gonzalez says.
Plus, that $7.8 billion figure is just BP’s estimate of the value of the settlement, notes Gonzalez, who has spent many months shuttling back and forth between New Orleans and his home in Coral Gables, where he practices personal injury law.
“There is no cap; it’s unlimited,” he says. “So as many claims as there are, they will be paid. … What it means to my clients is they get fully reimbursed for damages from this terrible event.”
A preliminary court hearing on the settlement offer is scheduled for early spring; the final hearing will likely be this summer. Gonzalez does not anticipate any concerns from the court.
The speed of the settlement proposal contrasts sharply with the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, a case that dragged on for many years.
“Exxon Valdez took 20 years, and then they got peanuts,” says Gonzalez. “We’ve done this in less than two years and got a significant recovery.”
Certain claims are still being negotiated, such as those from affected municipalities, casinos, and people in the oil industry who could not work during the BP spill.
“For a big chunk of the clients, this will be the final resolution,” Gonzalez says with satisfaction. “It will be over.”
See full feature on Mr. Gonzalez, which ran in the from 2008 Florida Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine.