About 6,000 claims in total have been filed against BP since its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and hundreds of them have been filed by Robert Gordon, chief trial lawyer for Weitz & Luxemberg, on behalf of fishermen affected by the spill.
“The problem is nobody knows how longthe fishing is going to be closed, how long the leak is going to continue and just how severely damaged these people are,” Gordon told CNBC Wednesday morning. “It may be a generation before they’re able to go out and fish the way they were before.”
Gordon said all the cases against the British oil giant would ultimately result in a fund with categories for everything.
“There will be a variety of claims: economic loss by fishermen, personal injury (for) the 11 people who died on the rig, economic losses by hotel owners, natural resources claims by the attorneys generals of the five states along the coast (and) federal lawsuits as well,” he explained.
“How big that fund is going to be depends on what the damages are, and there’s not a single person in the world who knows at this point what that amount is going to be,” he added.
Gordon said both sides — the plaintiffs and BP — will hire economic experts to quantify the losses, and he predicted it will be a “battle of the experts” to come up with a final figure.
When asked how long this could drag on for, Gordon said it could take more than 10 years.
“We just wrapped up Exxon Valdez,” he reminded CNBC. “People may be compensated much earlier, but there could be questions of punitive damages that go up and down the federal court system.”