MIAMI (AP) - BP PLC and the other companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill face fast-multiplying lawsuits likely to spark one of the most drawn-out and expensive legal battles in U.S. history.
Legal experts say the fight could easily consume the $20 billion BP set aside for the disaster.
One veteran of complex lawsuits says that unless there is a quick settlement that satisfies all sides, it could be 2015 before trials begin and at least 2028 before appeals and other issues are fully resolved. The lawyer, Lela Hollabaugh of Nashville, says it took 20 years to complete all claims from the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska.
So far, at least 300 federal lawsuits have been filed in 12 states against BP and the other three main companies involved.