News Column

Gulf Spill Victims Challenge BP Effort to Block Payments

August 27, 2013
gulf oil spill
Deepwater Horizon oil spill and fire in the Gulf of Mexico (photo: NASA)

Attorneys for victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill say a judge should deny BP's latest effort to halt payments from its multibillion-dollar class action settlement because the company has failed to show that any claim has been calculated or paid improperly.

A lawyer for the claims administrator also filed court papers dismissing as "baseless" BP's allegations of improprieties in the claims process.

In a filing in federal court in New Orleans on Sunday, the lead plaintiffs' attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to toss BP's request for an injunction. Barbier has denied several previous such requests by BP.

The court filing includes a copy of a recent letter from an investigator for claims administrator Patrick Juneau that says he found no evidence of misconduct by an employee of a claimant assistance center in Mobile, Ala.

The letter also says there were discrepancies in the information provided by an informant that prompted the inquiry.

A lawyer for Juneau added in a court filing Monday that BP's allegations aren't based on fact.

"Its repeated attacks on Mr. Juneau and his office are not only specious but appear to have a purpose of interfering with Mr. Juneau's ability to perform his court-appointed duties," Juneau's lawyer wrote.

BP set up a hot line for people to report potential fraud in the claims process and has been passing along the tips it receives to the claims administrator's office.

BP, meanwhile, is awaiting a ruling from a federal appeals court on its challenge of the way Juneau is calculating claims payments to businesses that report economic losses from the spill off Louisiana.

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(c)2013 the Houston Chronicle

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Source: Copyright Houston_Chronicl 2013


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