U.S., BP Finalize $20.8 Billion Deepwater Oil Spill Settlement

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration said Monday it has finalized the terms of a record $20.8 billion dollar settlement withBP PLC over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The announcement by top officials at the Justice, Commerce, Agriculture and Interior departments, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, puts the final touches on the biggest pollution penalty in U.S. history.

A consent decree was filed in federal court in New Orleans Monday morning outlining the settlement terms.

When the tentative terms of the deal were announced by the Justice Department in July, the company put the total price tag at $18.7 billion, while Justice Department officials said it was $20 billion. Monday’s announcement explained that discrepancy, which was due to the government counting money BP has already paid and because the parameters of some compensation are still being calculated.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday called the settlement “a strong and fitting response to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.’’

She said BP “is receiving the punishment it deserves, while also providing critical compensation for the injuries it caused to the environment and the economy of the gulf region.’’

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell stressed that the announcement doesn’t mean new obligations for the company. The final deal “does not reflect a new settlement or any new money,” he said. “It covers the same money — and the same amounts — disclosed by BP when we announced this agreement in July.’’

But he said the announcement puts the company another step toward “fulfilling our commitment to help restore the gulf economy and environment.’’

The settlement resolves all federal and state claims against BP for the accident.

The Deepwater Horizon, a large oil rig, exploded on the evening of April 20, 2010, after gas seeped into the well that the rig was drilling. The largest oil spill in U.S. waters, the disaster killed 11 crew members and leaked millions of barrels of crude into the gulf, coating hundreds of miles of shoreline with oil.

In addition to BP and the U.S., the settlement’s parties include Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, as well as more than 400 local governments. The deal resolves penalties under the Clean Water Act, natural resources damages, and other claims.

Now that the deal is finalized, $7.1 billion in U.S. and Gulf Coast states’ claims for environmental damage are payable over 18 years, while the $5.5 billion in Clean Water Act penalties are payable over 15 years. BP has previously estimated it would pay more than $1 billion annually over the majority of the payment period.

BP has separately reached a $4 billion settlement of a federal criminal probe stemming from the disaster.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that as part of the settlement, the government will lift its suspension on doing business with BP. The agreement also will create long-term environmental restoration work to improve the quality of the Gulf Coast shores, she added.

“Justice is not about dumping a pile of money and walking away,’’ Ms. McCarthy said.

As of July, BP had taken a cumulative pretax charge of $54.6 billion since the explosion to settle the myriad claims against it from the government, shareholders and other companies, according to SEC filings. That doesn’t mean BP has actually paid out all that money, just that is has made provisions for doing so in the future.

Many civil suits are pending against BP, including a securities fraud trial set to begin in Houston in January. In that case, investors who bought BP’s American Depository Shares are suing for misconduct, claiming they were harmed because BP underestimated how much oil was spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, which was ultimately used to determine the fines BP had to pay.

AbbVie drops Shire acquisition deal

Chicago-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc. said it is dropping its $55 billion bid for Irish drug maker Shire, Reuters reported on October 20.

The U.S. drug maker is required to pay Shire a breakup fee of $1.64 billion after deciding to walk away from the acquisition deal. AbbVie’s board of directors decided to pull out from the deal after the U.S. Treasury Department initiated some amendments that would make it more difficult for companies to enjoy lower business tax rates by relocating to another country.

Business transactions designed to help your business thrive and grow can be affected by certain state and federal legislative changes. If you are considering entering into business transactions but are having difficulties navigating the legal complexities accompanying such deals, the experienced attorneys at Young, Cotter & Meade, LLC, might be of help. Contact our offices in Louisiana at (337) 376-2813 today to learn more about our services.

FedEx faces deaf discrimination lawsuit

The FedEx Ground Package System Inc. has been accused of violating the Americans with Disability Act in a federal lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a U.S. District Court, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal on October 10.

The EEOC alleged that the company failed to make the necessary steps in accommodating hard-of-hearing or deaf employees and applicants by not providing American Sign Language interpretation and closed-captioning videos during recruitment orientations, facility tours, and staff and safety meetings. The lawsuit came out of the 19 discrimination charges filed across the U.S., which were consolidated by the EEOC.

The company strongly rejected the allegations, saying that they did not violate any law and are committed to refuting the EEOC’s allegations.

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Encana announces plan to acquire Athlon

North American energy producer Encana Corp. has announced its plan to purchase Texas-based Athlon Energy Inc. in a deal worth $7.1 billion, The Calgary Herald reported on September 29.

The deal outlines payment to Athlon of nearly $6 billion and the assumption of Athlon’s debt amounting to more than $1 billion. Encana CEO Doug Suttles said the acquisition will allow the company to generate three-fourths of its operating cash flow from liquids two years earlier than expected. Encana also believes the deal will provide them 5,000 drilling locations and 3 billion barrels of potential oil and natural gas found underground.

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Yazaki enters $76 million settlement over price fixing

Auto parts giant Yazaki has entered a multi-million dollar settlement over allegations of auto parts price fixing, Reuters reported on Tuesday, September 23.

The Japanese automobile parts maker has agreed to pay $76 million to U.S. buyers as a result of an ongoing multidistrict litigation over price fixing in the automotive parts industry. The litigation stemmed from a 2010 federal antitrust investigation that sought a wide crackdown on price fixing in this industry. So far, 28 companies have been indicted and fines have totaled $2.8 billion. The settlement with Yazaki has been the largest so far.

Businesses facing litigation and other legal concerns in Louisiana should seek the help of an experienced attorney from Young, Cotter & Meade, LLC to represent your interests during these proceedings. Call us today to discuss the details of your case at (337) 376-2813.

Settlement talks in Silicon Valley firms’ alleged anti-poaching scheme

Tech giants Google, Intel, Apple and Adobe have reopened mediation with workers over allegedly conspiring to refrain from hiring each other’s employees, according to a report on Wednesday, September 3.

In 2011, plaintiffs of a high-profile class action lawsuit have accused the tech firms of collaborating to avoid recruiting each other’s employees. Complainants stated that the companies’ hiring behavior has prevented them from achieving their peak earning potential.

A month ago, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, ruled that the proposed $324.5 million settlement was not enough for the plaintiffs.

The case is expected to be heard on September 10.

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Wells Fargo to pay $62.5 million securities settlement

Wells Fargo will pay $62.5 million in a settlement over charges that the bank mislead their clients by claiming that risky investment programs were secure, according to an Star Tribune report on Tuesday, August 19.

The settlement fund will be allotted for the 92 members of a class action lawsuit who accused Wells Fargo of placing the collateral gained from lending their money to brokers in unsafe investments. The members include an employee pension fund for the city of Farmington Hills, Michigan, and a carpenters union in Arizona.

During business litigation, it is important to have a qualified and seasoned business lawyer on your side who will be willing to provide you excellent representation and sound legal advice. If you need representation and advice during business litigation in Louisiana, consult with our team at Young, Cotter & Meade, LLC, by calling (337) 376-2813 today.

Pharma giant Roche announces $450 million deal to buy Santaris

A report by Reuters on August 4 reported that pharmaceutical company Roche announced its plan to acquire Santaris Pharma in a $450 million acquisition deal.

Roche plans to make an initial payment of $200M to buy the Danish-based drug company. Another $250 million will be paid after achieving certain drug development goals. If the buyout is completed, Santaris Pharma will be among the many companies recently bought by Roche in a series of acquisition since 2012. Roche’s latest acquisition is the U.S.-based Seragon Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was closed in a $1.725 million deal last month.

Santaris Pharma has been developing medicines known to moderate micro RNAs – a technology that could be beneficial in treating certain illnesses.

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