Remedies for Big Disasters: The BP Gulf Oil Spill and the Quest for Complete Justice

6 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2012

See all articles by Tracy A. Thomas

Tracy A. Thomas

University of Akron School of Law

Date Written: March 29, 2012


This essay introduces the symposium sponsored by the Remedies Section of the Association of American Law Schools which asked the question of what “complete justice” looks like for remedies for big disasters like the BP Oil spill. The contributors addressed whether the Gulf Coast Claims Facility created after the BP debacle provides complete justice, and whether it should serve as a precedent for future alternative systems. The surprising answer on both accounts was no. Ken Feinberg speaks first, arguing that alternative compensation systems like this are, and should be, rare. He explains some of the difficult issues of administration in these compensation funds. Professor John Goldberg then places the fund in the philosophical context of the multiple aspects of justice. I suggest that we should not quickly dismiss these creative options, especially in light of the myth of making the plaintiff whole, the limitations of litigation, and the increasing trend toward alternative dispute resolution.

Keywords: remedies, ADR, environmental disasters

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Tracy A., Remedies for Big Disasters: The BP Gulf Oil Spill and the Quest for Complete Justice (March 29, 2012). Akron Law Review, 2012; U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-04. Available at SSRN:

Tracy A. Thomas (Contact Author)

University of Akron School of Law ( email )

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Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States
330-972-6617 (Phone)
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