U.S. Judge Rejects BP Bid to Oust Gulf Spill Claims Chief

Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Reuters

Nov 10 (Reuters) - BP Plc has failed to persuade a federal judge to oust the administrator overseeing payouts to businesses and individuals claiming damages arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans on Monday rejected several arguments by the London-based oil company to remove the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau.

BP claimed that Juneau had a conflict of interest because he previously advised Louisiana over claims, made misleading statements about that work, and improperly sped up claims of people represented by the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee.

In a four-page order, Barbier said it was "beyond cavil" that BP knew of Juneau's prior consulting work for Louisiana. The judge also said BP's arguments were "mostly a regurgitation of old issues or complaints."

As to the only "new" issue, processing claims by PSC clients, Barbier said Juneau had discretion to review claims out of order, and there was no evidence he acted improperly.

BP spokesman Geoff Morrell in a statement said the company "strongly disagrees" with Barbier's decision and may appeal.

"Simply put, it is unacceptable for the claims program to continue operating as it has been - inefficiently, secretively, and marred by corruption, fraud, and conflicts of interest," he said.

The decision is a fresh setback to BP's effort to curb costs from the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which led to 11 deaths and the largest U.S. offshore oil spill.

BP has accused Juneau of awarding excessive payouts, including to claimants who were not harmed by the spill. It has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his methods.

Last month, BP estimated that its settlement with the PSC would cost $9.7 billion, but that this sum would likely go "significantly higher."

It also faces a January trial over whether it should pay a potential $18 billion in fines for violating the U.S. Clean Water Act.

Through Monday, Juneau has paid out $4.24 billion to 52,577 economic and property damages claimants.

The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Click on the button below to add a comment.
Post a Comment
Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.

Events  SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Our Privacy Pledge
SUBSCRIBE

Deepwater Horizon Images
Oil burns during a controlled fire A crewman aboard secures a cofferdam U.S. Air Force aerial spray Smoke from Deepwater Horizon (Apr 21)
Horizon Listing Heavily (Apr 22) Development Driller III Workers at A Decontamination Site Subsea Dispersan Injection System
71 more images view image library


From the Career Center
Jobs that may interest you
Expeditor
Expertise: Driller|Logistics Management|Materials Management
Location: Anchorage, AK
 
Rail Technical Manager Americas
Expertise: Logistics Management
Location: Houston, TX
 
Distribution Center Driver
Expertise: Logistics Management
Location: Vernon Packaging Plant, 
 
search for more jobs

Brent Crude Oil : $54.46/BBL 0.96%
Light Crude Oil : $51.68/BBL 1.21%
Natural Gas : $3.44/MMBtu 1.99%
Updated in last 24 hours