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December 4th, 2013

Appeals Court Says BP Settlement Argument Must Be Reconsidered

BP’s fight to block millions of dollars in settlement payments to businesses along the Gulf Coast after the 2010 oil spill has taken a step forward.

The oil giant has argued that settlement funds shouldn’t be paid to businesses that can’t demonstrate their losses are directly related to the spill. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Monday stating that District Judge Carl Barbier made a mistake by refusing to consider this causation argument.

BP has paid billions to residents and businesses impacted by the millions of gallons of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010.

The company has argued that a court appointed administrator, Patrick Juneau, misinterpreted the settlement deal’s terms. This misinterpretation, BP says, may have forced the company to pay bogus or inflated claims, while attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that BP has undervalued the settlement and underestimated how many would qualify to receive payment.

The Monday ruling by a three-judge panel directs Barbier to create an order allowing business to link their losses to the spill in order to keep getting their settlement payments, as well as ensuring that those businesses unable to do so will not receive payments until the case has been resolved.

In a dissenting opinion, Fifth Circuit Judge James Dennis said he believed BP’s arguments “clearly did not survive the parties’ settlement agreement.”

The offshore injury attorneys of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers help workers injured in offshore accidents such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

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