BP to return to appeals court following Barbier ruling upholding settlement parameters

NEW ORLEANS – Only days after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier upheld a controversial settlement process concerning business damage claims from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP has again filed an appeal with the same court that ordered Barbier to revisit the claims process.

The Christmas Eve ruling by Barbier keeping the settlement process intact was in line with his earlier rulings disallowing the settlement to be revisited.

However, BP has maintained the settlement was misinterpreted by Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau and that the company never intended to allow businesses to receive claims without being able to show a link between a drop in income due to, not just coinciding with, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

BP submitted a filing on Monday, Dec. 30 asking the Fifth Circuit to again craft an opinion on the issue.

“The district court’s December 24 ruling is yet another of its interpretive errors that has inflicted significant harm on BP,” the filing states.

BP argues that pursuant to the October opinion by the Fifth Circuit that Barbier should have revised the settlement process.

Judge Edith Brown Clement, the author of the Fifth Circuit’s earlier opinion, said the court should revisit the agreement to ensure the correct amounts were paid out to the proper claimants.

“The interests of individuals who may be reaping windfall recoveries because of an inappropriate interpretation of the Settlement Agreement and those who could never have recovered in individual suits for failure to show causation are not outweighed by the potential loss to a company and its public shareholders of hundreds of millions of dollars of unrecoverable awards,” Brown wrote.

Despite that opinion, Barbier wrote that he chose not to redefine the settlement process because BP agreed to the settlement in its current form and should be held to it.

“[T]he loss may be due to some cause other than the oil spill, or it may be caused in part by the oil spill and in part by something else, or it may in fact be entirely caused by the oil spill. But to ascertain the truth of the matter would require some counter evidence beyond what the claimant was required to submit under the Settlement,” Barbier’s ruling said.

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