U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier decided to reject BP’s recent attempt to block the Deepwater Horizon claims administrator from handing out awards according to its formula. Though BP had claimed that Patrick Juneau, the claims administrator, was being too generous with the settlement money and may even have been paying out millions on fictitious claims, Judge Barbier remained unconvinced.
Even from the very beginning of the proceeding last week Judge Barbier appeared unsympathetic. After the hour-long hearing the judge refused to grant a temporary injunction as BP had requested, temporarily suspending the settlement payments. BP immediately moved to appeal Barbier’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Barbier was obviously frustrated by BP’s attempt to halt payments, saying he has previously upheld the claims administrator’s interpretation of the settlement agreement. Barbier also said that the latest episode marked at least the third time that his court has had to review the very same issue. Judge Barbier said he didn’t know what it would take to resolve the issue, but that he expected it to be resolved the day of the hearing and not be raised yet again.
BP claims that Juneau is misinterpreting wording in the settlement agreement involving business claimants, which has allowed companies that were not directly impacted by the spill to file claims for compensation. BP argues companies are being rewarded despite having no losses and that allowing Juneau’s interpretation to prevail amounts to a rewriting of the original agreement.
Barbier questioned BP’s lead attorney Richard Godfrey, saying that he did not like the implication of the lawsuit, suing the claims administrator for simply carrying out his job. Barbier said he felt the action had troubling implications for the future and that he would not allow the challenge to go any further.
BP’s goal in the proceeding was to have Judge Barbier issue a temporary injunction, which would have suspended payments until the matter could be definitively litigated. Though Barbier granted a brief halt to the claims process, he decided in March to lift the injunction and allow the claims process to proceed. In addition to the appeal filed with the Fifth Circuit, BP has also filed a separate complaint in federal court against Juneau demanding that the rules of the settlement program be changed.
Barbier has said that the settlement agreement might indeed reach some absurd results at times, but that was obvious to all parties when the agreement was signed. In fact, Barbier says that was simply the cost of settling the class action lawsuit.
If you’ve been impacted by this or any other oil spill, don’t hesitate to contact the Mississippi BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill attorneys at Kobs & Philley at toll free (877) 856-0330.
Source: “Federal judge rejects BP’s attempt to block oil spill claim payments,” by Richard Thompson, published at NOLA.com.
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