[January 13, 2014]
(Reuters) — One of BP's attempts to curb payouts for what it says
are "fictitious" and "absurd" claims related to the 2010 Gulf of
Mexico oil spill has failed after a legal appeal was rejected by a
BP had argued in its appeal that the administration of a 2012
settlement agreement was faulty because it allowed claimants without
actual damages to join in.
But a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday
affirmed a federal judge's approval of the multi-billion dollar
settlement between the oil company and businesses and individuals
who lost money and property in the spill.
The ruling is a blow to the company's attempt to curb payouts to
what it says are undeserving claimants.
Two out of three judges on the appeals court panel rejected BP's
arguments. The court's findings said that the company had failed to
explain "how this court or the district court should identify or
even discern the existence of 'claimants that have suffered no
BP said in an emailed statement on Saturday that it was assessing
its legal options following the court's decision.
"BP will continue to press its position on the proper interpretation
of the settlement agreement's provisions requiring a causal nexus
between a claimant's injury and the spill," BP spokesman Geoff
BP had originally projected that its settlement in the case would
cost $7.8 billion. As of late October it had boosted this estimate
to $9.2 billion, and said this sum could grow "significantly higher"
with billions of dollars already having been paid out to claimants
who range from hotel owners to oyster gatherers.
Amongst the claims against which BP has protested are one for $21
million from a Louisiana rice mill which is located 40 miles from
the coast and which earned more revenue in 2010 than in any of the
previous three years.
Three years on, the shadow of the explosion of the Deepwater
Horizon drilling rig continues to hang over the company. The blast
ruptured a BP well killing 11 people and triggering the largest-ever
U.S. offshore oil spill.
BP still faces potential fines under the Clean Water Act. It has
filed numerous lawsuits to curb payouts related to the spill after
taking provisions for $42.4 billion to cover the clean-up,
compensation and fines.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Sarah
Young in London; additional reporting by Andrew Callus; editing by