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BP Plc (BP/) and lawyers suing the company over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill were given two extra days to submit a proposed settlement agreement to the federal judge overseeing the litigation.
Attorneys for both sides were due to file the accord yesterday with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans for preliminary approval. Barbier extended the deadline until tomorrow morning, after being advised by attorneys and Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan that more time was needed.
BP in March agreed to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve private plaintiffs’ claims for economic loss, property damage and exposure-related injuries. The settlement, reached March 2 days before a scheduled trial on liability for the 2010 spill, doesn’t cover federal government claims and those of the Gulf Coast states Louisiana and Mississippi against BP.
BP and the plaintiffs “have been engaged in finalizing the details of the settlement agreement and compiling all of the necessary documentation and exhibits for formal filing,” Barbier said yesterday in his one-page order. The extension of the filing deadline was necessary “for the parties to complete the compiling of the supporting documentation and exhibits,” he said.
The blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The accident prompted hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP; Transocean Ltd. (RIG), the Vernier, Switzerland-based owner and operator of the rig; and Houston-based Halliburton Co. (HAL), which provided cementing services.
The proposed settlement between BP and the Plaintiffs Steering Committee, a group of lawyers appointed by Barbier to handle the lawsuits, doesn’t include government claims or those by private parties against BP’s contractors on the doomed Macondo well. It also won’t include claims against BP from some private plaintiffs, including certain residents and businesses in Florida, PSC lawyers have said.
Barbier has scheduled a closed-door status conference on the lawsuits May 3. No new trial date has been set.
“BP and the PSC are finalizing two separate settlement agreements -- one resolving economic and property damage claims; the other resolving medical claims -- that will fairly compensate people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill,” the parties said in a joint statement issued yesterday.
The plaintiffs filed a complaint yesterday in federal court against BP as a class action seeking damages and/or medical monitoring for people who may have been harmed by exposure to oil spilled or chemicals used to clean it up. The proposed settlement would cover claims against BP for spill-related injuries and medical monitoring, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said last month.
The plaintiffs also filed a complaint yesterday seeking class action, or group treatment, for non-government economic losses and property damage.
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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