BP Appealing Claim Process

Jul 9, 2013

A federal appeals court is deciding if BP can back away from its damage-claim process set up last year. At issue are methods used by businesses claiming losses from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

BP says federal judge Carl Barbier and claims administrator Patrick Juneau are misinterpreting the settlement agreement.

It says businesses that were not hurt by the spill are getting claims approved in amounts the oil company describes as “outrageous windfalls.”

Lawyers for those businesses argue BP has a case of “buyer’s remorse” and underestimated how many claims would qualify.

The Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals is examining how Barbier has been handling the multibillion-dollar settlements.

Law professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond in Virginia is an expert in matters reaching federal courts across the country. He says on average, appeals panels overturn only about 20 percent of lower-court rulings.

“I think it’s an uphill fight," he said. "That’s not to say that the panel might not rule in favor of BP, but I do think it could be very difficult given all that Judge Barbier has done so far in the trial court.”  

The appeal does not apply to payments awarded individuals.

Tobias says he expects a ruling in the next few months.