A federal judge has refused BP PLC’s request to halt payments to some businesses allegedly claiming "fictitious losses" from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier issued a final judgment against two BP subsidiaries on April 8 and the next day ordered all parties to adhere to the method he’d established on March 5 for calculating damages under the $7.8 billion settlement reached last year with individuals and businesses asserting economic damages caused by the 2010 spill.
Earlier, on April 5, Barbier had dismissed the company’s claims against Patrick Juneau, administrator of a claims fund set up to dispense the money; BP Exploration & Production Inc. and BP America Production Co. had named Juneau personally in arguing that he was improperly calculating losses for some business claims, leading to billions of dollars in "absurd windfalls." On March 15, the BP entities moved for a preliminary injunction that would halt payment to businesses claiming such "fictitious losses."
Juneau had replied that he had no authority to alter calculations set forth in the settlement and subject to the New Orleans judge’s March 5 order. Juneau’s method was backed by the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the litigation.
"The Court adopts Class Counsel’s interpretation as it is most in line with the rest of the Settlement Agreement," Barbier wrote on March 5. He acknowledged that some of the claims might not equate to actual losses, the consequences of which "BP accepted when it decided to buy peace through a global, class-wide resolution."
Representatives of BP and Juneau did not respond to requests for comment. BP, which already has indicated plans to appeal Barbier’s March 5 order, immediately filed a notice that it would appeal his April 5 ruling.
BP’s injunction, had it been approved, would have applied only to claims that used Juneau’s calculation, or to those in certain industries, but would not have affected the distribution of claims to seafood businesses, individuals with economic or property damages, subsistence farmers, or boat owners who assisted in the cleanup.
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