In a Friday court filing, BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier
in New Orleans to require businesses to make restitution plus
interest of excess payments, which it called "windfalls." It also
requested an injunction to stop the businesses from spending these
BP said letting the overpayments stand would create discrepancies
that reward some businesses whose awards were made sooner. It also
said "there is no public interest in permitting dissipation of
assets to which claimants had no right."
Friday's request escalates BP's legal battle over how to interpret
its 2012 settlement to resolve claims by businesses who said they
suffered economic losses because of the spill.
BP has long said the businesses' lawyers and claims administrator
Patrick Juneau have misinterpreted the settlement, allowing
recoveries without proof that the spill caused losses.
The London-based oil company has said the uncapped settlement could
cost $9.2 billion, higher than its original $7.8 billion estimate,
and that this amount could grow.
On June 9, the U.S. Supreme Court said BP must continue to pay
claims as it pursues legal challenges to the payouts.
Friday's filing came six months Barbier directed Juneau to change
his policy in reviewing claims applications, and ensure that
claimants be able to "match" revenues with costs for the purpose of
calculating financial losses.
BP said Juneau's new policy, which won court approval on May 5, will
lead to "dramatically different calculations of lost profits," and
justifies recouping earlier, inflated awards.
To illustrate the potential changes, BP said a seller of animal
skins would have under the new policy been paid $14 million less
than it was awarded, while a construction company located hundreds
of miles from the Gulf would have been paid $8.4 million less.
[to top of second column]
Juneau's earlier interpretation "resulted in claimants receiving
awards well in excess of what they are entitled to under the
settlement agreement - in some cases by millions of dollars - or
awards that weren't warranted at all," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell
said. "Letting these erroneous awards stand uncorrected would
violate basic principles of fairness and equity."
Steve Herman and Jim Roy, the lead lawyers for business claimants,
said in a statement: "This is just another attempt by BP to back out
of the commitment it made to the Gulf."
A spokesman for Juneau did not immediately respond to a request for
The April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
and rupture of BP's Macondo oil well led to 11 deaths and the
largest U.S. offshore oil spill. BP has said it has taken $42.7
billion of pretax charges for the spill.
The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in
the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern
District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.