Surely I'm not the only one who found the well-researched article in yesterday's NY Times ("How a Gulf settlement that BP once hailed became its target") to be unsettling. Usually articles about the class settlement get posted quickly on this website, either by cheerleaders or bashers, but not this one. I guess that must be because it was pretty even-handed, calling into question the motives of BP and avaricious claimants (including their attorneys) alike, which probably also explains why it's not linked to BP's stateofthegulf website.
Sounds like bp's biggest mistake was to let go of Feinberg's process which actually tried to identify and weed out the fraud. See the July 2013 NYT op-ed "Justice Louisana Style" which begins with "You can actually pinpoint the moment when the oil company BP began to get hosed in Louisiana: March 2012. "
Leaving aside the "administrative" terms of the deal, the concept of settling with the class plaintifs was a sensible strategic goal at the time. As the initial Phase I trial date approached, BP was simultaneously negotiating with both the PSC and the DOJ, and while it eventually resolved the DOJ's criminal charges, it was unable to settle the DOJ's claim for civil penalties. So BP faced a trial at which it would be the focal point of both the PSC and DOJ. By settling with the PSC's clients, BP extinguished its substantial punitive damages exposure to the settlement class, and it realigned the Phase I parties such that when the trial commenced in 2013, the focus of the PSC lawyers was entirely on RIG and HAL, leaving BP to worry only about the DOJ. We'll see how it turns out, but BP's chances of avoiding a finding of "gross negligence" had to be significantly improved because the settlement caused the PSC's trial team to take 100% of their shots at RIG and HAL, as opposed to ganging up with the DOJ's attorneys and piling on BP.