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U.S. to Produce Documents BP Requested on Gulf Spill

Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi asked the judge overseeing lawsuits over the 2010 BP Plc oil spill to delay preliminary approval of the company’s proposed settlement with thousands of plaintiffs.

BP said March 2 it would pay at least $7.8 billion to resolve private plaintiffs’ claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries. The settlement didn’t cover claims by Gulf Coast states including Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The settlement may be preliminarily approved before this office and other interested stakeholders have a meaningful opportunity to review and comment on its terms,” Bondi said in a court filing today. “The court should delay any immediate decision on the preliminary approval motion.”

Lawyers on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, who negotiated the agreement with BP, are scheduled to submit a proposed agreement April 16 for approval by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans. Bondi asked Barbier to set up a “briefing schedule” to allow time for comment.

The proposed settlement may cut out certain classes of plaintiffs from recovery, including some Florida residents, Bondi said.

“It appears that the settlement will apply only to claims from Florida businesses and residents located in the Panhandle or along the west coast of Florida,” she said. BP and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, set up by the company to pay claims, have previously “paid claims from almost every county in Florida.”

The blowout and explosion killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The accident prompted hundreds of lawsuits against BP and its partners.

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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