SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The United States Supreme Court will not hear BP's appeal on oil spill settlements with businesses and individuals. BP officials have been trying to argue the court appointed claims administrator was paying bogus and inflated claims for losses that were not from the oil spill.
Monday's decision was BP's final appeal. That's why South Mississippi attorney Matthew Mestayer says it's good news for those affected by the oil spill more than four years ago.
"I'm very hopeful and very excited things will pick up speed and get this done," Mestayer said. "Because small businesses, I mean I run a small business, small businesses we need our money as quick as we can because as they say, justice delayed is no justice."
All pay outs were stopped during BP's legal battle from October 2013 until June of 2014. Despite payments being resumed at the beginning of the summer, Mestayer said it has been extremely slow and he believes all the legal fights have actually discouraged people from filing a claim.
"What they estimate is less than half the eligible businesses that have a loss, not all businesses, but all those that have a defined BP loss, have filed a claim. Under 50 percent," Mestayer said. "What is amazing to me, half of the businesses that really did have a loss haven't even put in a claim yet. I just really would encourage them to put in a claim themselves or with someone to get that done."
With all of BP's appeals now exhausted for settlements with individuals and businesses, a date may soon be set for when the claims process will be closed.
"Until we get this resolved, it's hard to put the spill behind you because we live with the aftermath every day," Mestayer said. "BP has moved on, but we haven't. So I know everyone is anxious to put it behind them and go forward."
After the decision by the US Supreme Court was made, BP's Vice President of US Communications and External Affairs Geoff Morrell said, "We nevertheless remain concerned that the program has made awards to claimants that suffered no injury from the spill - and that the lawyers for these claimants have unjustly profited as a result."
"On behalf of all our stakeholders," Morrell said, "we will therefore continue to advocate for the investigation of suspicious or implausible claims and to fight fraud where it is uncovered. In doing so, we hope to prevent further exploitation of our commitment to compensating all those legitimately harmed by the spill."