The Costs of a Miscarriage of Justice

This article originally appeared at the Weekly Standard. Click here to read the full article.

By Ike Brannon and Joshua Wolson

When a class action lawsuit gets settled, the deal has to prescribe how the defendant will pay the members of the injured class and who can be part of that class. BP, the global energy company, is embroiled in a dispute over this second question—the definition of the class of businesses that can claim they were injured as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Currently, a lower court is administering the settlement fund in a way that compensates hundreds of people who weren’t injured at all. This approach is simply wrong and constitutes an abuse of the legal process.

No one disputes the basic facts: The Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010, produced deaths, injuries, and economic losses that total in in the tens of billions of dollars. The main question for the courts to resolve revolves around the decline in revenue some businesses suffered after the spill.