BP Gulf Oil Spill Accord Is Biased, Shrimp Processors Say
BP Plc (BP/)’s proposed settlement of private plaintiffs’ claims of losses from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill discriminates against some members of the shrimp industry, lawyers for processors said.
The American Shrimp Processors Association today asked the judge overseeing the lawsuits to delay preliminary approval of the settlement until “relevant revisions and modifications are made.” The accord treats shrimp harvesters and boat captains better than owners of docks and plants that receive the catch and prepare it for market, the organization said.
“The two groups are part of the same shrimp supply chain and share virtually identical future economic loss risk; however their compensation for future economic loss risks is widely disparate,” the association’s lawyers said in the filing.
BP last month agreed to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve private plaintiffs’ claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries. The March 2 settlement, reached days before a scheduled trial on liability for the 2010 spill, doesn’t cover federal government claims and those of the Gulf Coast states Louisiana and Mississippi.
Also excluded are claims of financial institutions, casinos, private plaintiffs in parts of Florida and Texas, and residents and businesses claiming harm from the Obama administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling prompted by the spill.
Hearing this Week
Lawyers for BP and plaintiffs suing the company filed the proposed settlement April 18 with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans for preliminary approval. Barbier set a hearing for April 25 to consider the request. The shrimp processors asked the judge to allow its lawyers to speak at the hearing.
BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, a group of lawyers appointed by Barbier to handle the lawsuits, asked the judge to hold a Nov. 8 fairness hearing before final approval of the accord and to postpone any trial on liability until after the hearing.
The U.S. will oppose postponing the trial, acting U.S. Associate Attorney General Tony West said in an interview April 20.
Barbier won’t consider the request to postpone the trial until a closed-door hearing May 3, he said today in a one-page order. He ordered parties to file briefs opposing or supporting BP’s motion to postpone the trial by May. 2.
The blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The accident prompted hundreds of lawsuits against London- based BP; Transocean Ltd. (RIG), the Vernier, Switzerland-based owner and operator of the rig; and Houston-based Halliburton Co. (HAL), which provided cementing services.
The case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).
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