Judge OKS Gulf spill set­tle­ment

BP es­ti­mates it will pay $7.8 bil­lion on 100,000 claims.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By­janet Mc­connaughey

NEW OR­lEANS — A fed­eral judge on Fri­day gave fi­nal ap­proval to BP PLC’s set­tle­ment with busi­nesses and peo­ple who lost money be­cause of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

BP has es­ti­mated it will pay $7.8 bil­lion to re­solve more than 100,000 claims by busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als from the na­tion’s worst off­shore oil spill. The set­tle­ment has no cap; the com­pany could end up paying more or less.

U.S. District Judge Carl Bar­bier ap­proved the set­tle­ment in a 125-page rul­ing is­sued Fri­day.

“None of the ob­jec­tions, whether filed on the ob­jec­tions docket or else­where, have shown the Set­tle­ment to be any­thing other than fair, rea­son­able, and ad­e­quate,” he wrote.

BP said it was pleased with the set­tle­ment, which got Bar­bier’s pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval in May.

“We be­lieve the set­tle­ment, which avoids years of lengthy lit­i­ga­tion, is good for the peo­ple, busi­nesses and com­mu­ni­ties of the Gulf and is in the best in­ter­ests of BP’s stake­hold­ers,” com­pany spokesman Scott Dean said in state­ment. “To­day’s de­ci­sion by the Court is an­other im­por­tant step for­ward for BP in meet­ing its com­mit­ment to eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal restora­tion ef­forts in the Gulf and in elim­i­nat­ing le­gal risk fac­ing the com­pany.”

The April 2010 blowout of BP’s Ma­condo well trig­gered an ex­plo­sion that killed 11 rig work­ers and spilled more than 200 mil­lion gal­lons of oil into the Gulf.

Bar­bier has not ruled on a med­i­cal set­tle­ment for cleanup work­ers and oth­ers who say ex­po­sure to oil or dis­per­sants made them sick.

The agree­ment cov­ers peo­ple and busi­nesses in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi, Alabama and some coastal coun­ties in east­ern Texas and west­ern Florida, and in ad­ja­cent Gulf wa­ters and bays.

As part of the set­tle­ment, BP will pay $2.3 bil­lion to cover seafoodrelated claims by com­mer­cial fish­ing ves­sel own­ers, cap­tains and deck­hands. That fund is the set­tle­ment’s only limit, Bar­bier wrote. He said that it is about five times the av­er­age in­dus­try gross rev­enue from 2007 to 2009 and, ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence pro­vided, more than 19 times the rev­enue the in­dus­try lost in 2010.

Thou­sands of peo­ple opted out of the set­tle­ment to pur­sue their cases in­di­vid­u­ally.

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