BP Spill Accord Appeal Fast-Tracked by New Orleans Court

An appeal of BP Plc’s $9.6 billion economic-damages settlement from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was fast-tracked by the New Orleans appellate court weighing whether the deal is fair.

U.S. Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly today tentatively set oral arguments in the case for the week of Nov. 4 under an expedited schedule.

Thousands of coastal businesses and individuals claiming harm from the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history appealed BP’s settlement on claims it violates the legal requirement that class-action, or group, accords must treat victims with similar injuries the same.

BP asked the court to expedite handling of the appeal in a filing that echoed many of the victims’ concerns about unequal treatment of businesses with economic losses. The company has repeatedly tried, and failed, to halt claims payments until its concerns are resolved on appeal.

London-based BP is fighting Patrick Juneau, its court-appointed claims administrator, over what the company contends is a misinterpretation of terms resulting in millions of dollars of payments to businesses that didn’t suffer losses from the spill.

The company said last week that court orders approving the settlement and certification of the class “cannot stand” unless the dispute over Juneau’s interpretation is resolved in the company’s favor.

Lawyers for victims supporting the settlement claim BP is having “buyer’s remorse” and is trying to renegotiate a deal that is proving more expensive than anticipated.

The underlying 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). The appeal is In Re: Deepwater Horizon -- Appeals of the Economic and Property Damage Class Action Settlement, 13-30095, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).

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