Supreme Court Rejects BP Challenge to Gulf Settlement

Oil burns during a controlled fire May 6, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard oversaw oil burns after the massive oil leak from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform off the coast of Louisiana. (Photo by Justin E. Stumberg/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

Supreme Court Rejects BP Challenge to Gulf Settlement

The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear BP's challenge to a settlement requiring it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses hurt by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear energy giant BP's (IW 1000/4) challenge to a settlement requiring it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses hurt by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP had argued that losses claimed by the companies after the disaster "were not fairly traceable to the spill," and sought a review of the settlement by the U.S. high court.

But the nine justices, after a closed door hearing, issued a decision rejecting the company's request.

"The petition ... is denied," the court said.

The Mobile, Alabama Chamber of Commerce, the US Chamber of Commerce and a federation of German industries had filed briefs in support of the companies involved in the settlement.

According to a study published in October, as many as two million barrels of crude oil streamed into the Gulf of Mexico, decimating the wildlife and devastating the ecology of a region heavily dependent on the seafood and tourism industries.

A BP spokesman expressed regret Monday over the Supreme Court decision.

Company spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement that new accounting rules "will improve the program's compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement."

But Morrell said BP continues to feel that the problem for which it sought relief from the US high court persists.

"We remain concerned that the program has made awards to claimants that suffered no injury from the spill, and that the lawyers for these claimants have unjustly profited as a result," Morrell said. "On behalf of all our stakeholders, we will therefore continue to advocate for the investigation of suspicious or implausible claims and to fight fraud where it is uncovered."

The April 20, 2010, blowout of an offshore oil rig caused the largest marine oil spill in US history, with millions of barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico before the leak was finally capped July 15.

Under the settlement, BP has so far paid out $36.3 billion in fines and compensation to individuals, companies and local authorities and for clean-up operations on the US coastline.

After pleading guilty in court, BP was ordered to pay a record $4.5 billion fine.

In September, a federal judge in Louisiana found the British company guilty of "gross negligence," opening it up to additional fines of up to $18 billion.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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