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Judge to hear BP's complaint about oil spill claims

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has scheduled a hearing Friday on BP’s bid to temporarily block settlement payments to Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim they lost money after the company’s 2010 oil spill.

Yesterday, BP asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to suspend the payments while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates alleged misconduct by a lawyer who helped administer the multibillion-dollar settlement program.

Last month, court-appointed claims administrator Patrick Juneau announced that his office is investigating allegations that a former staff attorney, Lionel H. Sutton III, received a portion of settlement proceeds for claims he had referred to a law firm before he started working on the settlement program.

Barbier appointed Freeh on July 2 to investigate the allegations and take a broader look at the program.

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