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Settlement in BP Oil Spill Approved by Judge

On Friday, the United States judge issued final approval to BP Plc’s settlement with businesses and individuals who suffered money losses and property losses in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to Reuters.

The order issued by the judge covers just the settlement for property damage and economic claims. It does not cover a separate settlement for medical benefits of cleanup workers and others who claim that the oil spill caused them to get sick.

In the class action litigation, BP said that it will pay close to $7.8 billion in order to settle over 100,000 claims filed against the company. The judge, Carl Barbier, approved the deal back in May. He decided to hold a “fairness hearing” in November to hear objections from 13,000 claimants that challenged the settlement that resolved the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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During a period of 87 days, the London-based BP Macondo well deposited 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Shorelines from Texas to Alabama were fouled by the oil spill and turned out to be worse than the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

The deal was reached back in March between BP and lawyers who represented plaintiffs from various industries. Those industries included oyster men, hoteliers and restaurateurs, who all claimed they lost money because of the oil spill. The deal was objected to by some of the people affected by the oil spill though. The lawyers for the plaintiffs said that some of their clients would be unfairly excluded from the settlement or underpaid in the settlement.

Barbier said in the 125-page order that approved the settlement that the deal is “fair, reasonable and adequate.” He noted the low number of class members who opted out or objected to the settlement. In a statement, BP agreed with the judge’s approval, saying that the settlement fixes the majority or property damage and economic claims that were a result of the oil spill.

“Today’s decision by the Court is another important step forward for BP in meeting its commitment to economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf and in eliminating legal risk facing the company,” BP said in its statement.

BP has also been embroiled in a legal fight with the United States government and states along the Gulf Coast to settle billions of dollars in civil and criminal liability from the oil spill. A settlement with the government was reached by BP last month, in which BP will pay $4.5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to misconduct.

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