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The Legal Battle over the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Claims Continues

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the terms of the Economic and Property Damage Class Action Settlement Agreement in a 2-1 ruling, dashing the hopes of BP Plc of stopping what the lawyers have termed as “fictitious” and “absurd” claims. The oil giant contends that the settlement was for individuals and businesses that had been adversely affected financially by the Macondo oil spill. However, the terms of the settlement made no provisos requiring claimants to show proof that the oil spill caused business or individual losses. BP Plc is the operator of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig located in the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. More than three years ago on April 20, 2010, the oil rig exploded, spewing millions of barrels of oil into the water over 5 months before the leak could be plugged. It is considered the most massive environmental disaster in the history of the petroleum industry. BP and its partners have been found civilly liable for the economic, environmental, and physical damage caused by the oil spill. Despite their defeat at the appellate court, however, BP still has the power to contest each and every claim over $25,000 made against the settlement. Moreover, a second panel on the 5th Circuit has been convened to consider whether causality should be considered a given in the terms of the settlement as contended by BP, to prevent benefiting claimants who seek only to take advantage of the opportunity even if they have not suffered any injury as a result of the oil spill. This latest development in the legal tussle for control over the $9.2 billion settlement fund has halted the sigh of relief of legitimate claimants over the decision of the first panel not to stop the processing of claims. If the second panel decides to grant BP’s motion to realign the...
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