BP: Oil spill awards being paid to 'fictitious' claimants

July 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, July 9 (UPI) -- Some claims paid in the multibillion-dollar BP oil spill settlement are "fictitious," an oil company lawyer has told a Louisiana federal appeals court.

In a hearing before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Theodore Olson argued claims administrator Patrick Juneau had misinterpreted the terms of the class-action settlement BP reached with the federal government, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.

Olsen told the three-judge panel that Juneau was paying out "fictitious, exaggerated and excessive awards."

The oil company has appealed a decision by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in March denying a temporary injunction against Juneau, whom BP claimed was allowing attorneys from Gulf states to advertise that businesses could seek payments from the settlement even if they had not been directly harmed by the spill.

In rejecting the injunction, Barbier said the terms of the settlement could sometimes produce "absurd results," but that such claims were part of the cost of settling the lawsuit.

Olson told the appellate judges "irreparable injustices are taking place, and money is being dispensed to parties from whom it might not ever be recoverable."

Judge James L. Dennis didn't seem sympathetic to Olson's arguments, telling him "the parties have given up things in order to gain things, and it seems to me something that you gave up was the agreement that defines what is a lost profit in a particular way."

The panel did not indicate when it might rule.

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