University of Miami Law Review


Filip Grzelak


In April 2010, Deepwater Horizon, a BP-operated drilling rig, exploded killing eleven workers and poisoning the waters of the Gulf of Mexico with 210 million gallons of oil. Some 90,000 cleanup workers become involved in the response; many became sick after exposure to crude oil and Corexit, a chemical used to disperse the oil. A class action against BP ensued. A settlement was reached in 2013 and provided for a two-phased compensation mechanism, which class action experts praised for effectiveness and fairness.

Soon, however, it became clear that the settlement was neither effective nor fair. Many cleanup workers were denied the compensation that they were promised under the administrative-based phase one of the settlement. Instead, they were forced into the ongoing litigation-based phase two, where their individual claims must be brought to federal courts. Plaintiffs have become stuck with an unfair settlement and federal courts could be bogged down with a multitude of personal injury trials—an unwanted result of any class action settlement. This Comment argues that after granting a judicial approval of a class action settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2), courts should have a continuing duty as a fiduciary to the class to ensure fairness and effectiveness of the settlement.