BP Spill Settlement Approval Appealed by Opt-Out Victims

Thousands of individuals and businesses that sued BP Plc over damage from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill appealed a judge’s approval of a $7.8 billion class-action settlement.

Brent Coon, a lawyer for plaintiffs who opted out of the settlement, said in a filing yesterday in federal court in New Orleans that he’s appealing the judge’s orders approving the settlement. An attached list names more than 10,000 individuals and businesses who are challenging the accord.

Coon said last year that his clients wouldn’t participate in the class-action settlement because there were too many technical problems with the claims process, which he called “slow, arduous and unexplainable.”

BP, based in London, agreed in March of last year to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve most private plaintiffs’ claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries. The settlement was reached days before a scheduled trial on liability for the 2010 spill.

The blowout and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and started millions of barrels of crude leaking into the gulf. The accident prompted hundreds of lawsuits against BP; Transocean Ltd., the Vernier, Switzerland-based owner and operator of the rig; and Halliburton Co., which provided cementing services for the well.

Feb. 25 Trial

BP faces additional billions of dollars in civil pollution fines and costs to restore natural resources damaged by the spill. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has scheduled a non-jury trial for Feb. 25 in New Orleans, where he will apportion civil liability among BP and the other companies involved in the disaster.

In a court filing yesterday, BP asked that some criminal proceedings against it and its employees not be used as evidence in the civil trial. BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 counts, including 11 for felony seaman’s manslaughter, and pay $4 billion.

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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