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Limiting Liability Is Simply Not A Good Idea

May 31, 2010

Judge H. Lee Sarokin: Is the Limitation of Liability for Oil Spills the Poster Boy Against Tort Reform?

If BP’s liability for the oil spill is limited to $75 million, who pays for the damages over that amount? If some fisherman loses a business he has had for 50 years and BP has paid out a day or two of its earnings for damages — reached the cap — does the fisherman absorb the loss or does the government (the taxpayer) pay the difference? I expect that in reality, BP will be responsible for more than the $75 million in damage claims, but I have to wonder what Congress was thinking when it adopted the limitation of liability.

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