A pail lays on its side as the sun rises on the Louisiana coast on April 19, 2014, in Grand Isle. This was taken days after BP announced it had concluded its 'active' cleanup efforts. (Copyright Sean Gardner, Getty Images)

US Supreme Court Denies BP Bid to Halt Oil Spill Payments

June 9, 2014
BP argued that the ruling against it accepts an overly broad definition of who can join in a class of victims covered in a damages settlement.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a bid by BP to halt making compensation payments linked to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Without comment, the top panel rejected an effort by the British energy giant to stop its disbursements, effectively letting stand refusals to do so by lower courts.

Under a 2012 settlement, BP (IW 1000/4) agreed to pay out billions of dollars to people and businesses claiming damages from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

But BP says the broad language of the deal and lower court rulings mean it is being forced to pay for losses that took place wholly unrelated to, and even before, the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

BP said last month it was taking its case to the Supreme Court after judges on the 5th Circuit Appeals Court refused to reconsider earlier rulings in an 8-5 vote against the company.

It argued that the ruling against it accepts an overly broad definition of who can join in a class of victims covered in a damages settlement.

"No company would agree to pay for losses that it did not cause, and BP certainly did not when it entered into this settlement," BP said as it filed its appeal to the Supreme Court on May 21.

But the Supreme Court ruled Monday that "the application to recall and stay the mandate of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth circuit ... is denied."

The BP spill spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the waters off Louisiana, also sullying the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida.

In pleading guilty to the spill, BP agreed to pay the government $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges in the case.

It also agreed in 2012 to settle damage claims by businesses and individuals for about $7.8 billion.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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