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Federal appeals court upholds multibillion dollar settlement for BP oil spill

A federal appeals court ruled [opinion; pdf] on Friday to uphold a district court ruling approving BP's [corporate website] settlement with parties who claim to have suffered financial loss due to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill [JURIST news archive]. BP argued that the settlement should not be enforced as District Judge Carl Barbier for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website], who gave the initial ruling [JURIST report], failed to determine if the claimants in the settlement included individuals who were not injured by the oil spill. The three-judge appellate panel for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] decided that this was not sufficient grounds to invalidate the settlement and affirmed Barbier's ruling. "[C]lass certification is not precluded simply because a class may include persons who have not been injured by the defendant's conduct," the court stated in the majority opinion. BP has estimated the settlement will cost it about $7.8 billion.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected [JURIST report] an interpretation of the settlement terms in October. In September, Halliburton [corporate website] pleaded guilty to destroying evidence [JURIST report] showing its connection to the oil spill. A federal judge in August ordered BP to pay $130 million [JURIST report] to the gulf oil spill claim administration [official website] under allegations of corruption in the disbursement process. The terms of BP's settlement have been one of the most hotly contested aspects of the case since the trial began [JURIST report] in February. BP's former executive and two well-site supervisors pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to criminal charges in November 2012.

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