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Regions Bank v. BP P.L.C.

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20029
Nos. 1141170, (Ala., 01/29/2016)

The Supreme Court of Alabama reversed and remanded a lower court decision dismissing a coastal property owner's lawsuit against an oil company for alleged trespassing and property damage stemming from the company's response actions following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. After the spill, hundreds of cases with thousands of individual claimants were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, and a settlement agreement relating to economic and property damage was reached in 2012. Because the property damage arises from the spill and was within the geographic area designated by the settlement, the oil company argued, and the lower court agreed, that the coastal property owner was a class member in that settlement. The lower court then held that because the owner did not opt out of the class, its claims were released under the terms of the settlement. But the owner is a commercial bank, and the court held that commercial banks are clearly and unambiguously exluded from the settlement's definition of a class member.