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Partner David Baay Quoted by Law360 on Significance of BP Settlement

Posted on: August 5th, 2015

Houston Partner David Baay praised U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier for his “excellent” management of the insurance dispute between BP and Transocean Ltd. in an interview with Law360. Mr. Baay, a member of the Sutherland Asbill & Brennan team representing Transocean in the litigation that followed the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, was interviewed by the online legal news service for two stories about recent developments in the case.

BP agreed to an $18.7 billion settlement with the U.S. government that ended most of the civil litigation related to the disaster. In a July 2, 2015, article headlined, “Without a Deal, BP Would Have Faced Harsher Penalties” (subscription required), Mr. Baay told Law360 that BP “didn’t have any other recourse” once the oil company failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to review Judge Barbier’s decision on liability under the Clean Water Act. “I think the settlement makes sense,” he said.

He also noted that a lesson other companies should take from the outcome is that a very significant portion of the settlement was the result of the Oil Pollution Act, Clean Water Act and natural resources damage assessments. The amount of the settlement was related to the lengthy time it took to cap the gushing deepwater well.

A July 6 follow-up article, headlined “’Masterful’ Judge Credited For BP Case’s Timely End” (subscription required), examined Judge Barbier’s handling of the BP-Transocean litigation. Mr. Baay also was quoted in that story.

Early on, the judge had “a script or playbook that he charted for this, dividing it up into multiple phases,” Baay said. “And I think part of his thinking in doing that was to allow the possibility for settlement after each of these phases, because the parties would have a preview of what their total exposure would be given the initial liability finding and then the total hydrocarbon release finding, and then ultimately, what the multiplier was going to be under the Clean Water Act.”

Mr. Baay called the judge’s oversight “excellent,” in large part due to his thorough planning.