The Wall Street Journal reports:
The 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill was a disaster for local businesses and the environment but also the best thing ever to happen to the trial lawyers who continue to exploit the accident for fun and profit. Now the Supreme Court has an opening to impose discipline on the class-action lawsuit industry by forcing the tort bar to prove its claims.
Two years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, BP consolidated the 2,700 lawsuits that were then still outstanding after setting up a voluntary $20 billion fund to compensate shrimpers, hotels dependant on tourism and the like. The class as certified by New Orleans federal district Judge Carl Barbier became entitled to a settlement pool estimated to be $7.8 billion, and he appointed an old trail lawyer friend Patrick Juneau as claims administrator.
That compensation facility has since become a sink of self-dealing, according to a report by Special Master and former FBI director Louis Freeh , involving potential violations of “criminal statutes regarding fraud, money laundering, conspiracy or perjury” that “caused tangible harm to the integrity” of the fund. But the main offense is that Mr. Juneau has ignored the settlement’s language that defines the class as people who have suffered injuries such as lost income “as a result of” the spill, and he is applying more ambiguous language from elsewhere in the document.