Judge set to preside over oil spill settlement; Halliburton objects

FILE - In this file photo taken June 12, 2010, crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala. As cleanup costs escalate and lawsuits mount, the fear of the unknown is drowning out the voices of reason, causing BP's stock price to crumple in half.

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in New Orleans is set to preside over a hearing on a proposed class-action settlement that would resolve billions of dollars in claims against BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP PLC and a team of plaintiffs’ attorneys are seeking U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, which is designed to resolve more than 100,000 claims by people and businesses who blame the spill for economic losses. Barbier is scheduled to hear their request today.

BP estimates it will pay about $7.8 billion to resolve these claims, but the settlement doesn’t have a cap.

The deal was announced March 2, but its details are spelled out in hundreds of pages of documents filed last week.

Cement contractor Halliburton is objecting to the proposed settlement between BP and the plaintiffs group.

Halliburton said in a filing in federal court in New Orleans late yesterday the settlement improperly seeks to assign certain claims that BP has made against Halliburton to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee.

The Houston-based company says allowing the settlement to be approved under those conditions would affect its ability to independently settle with the PSC or individual plaintiffs. Halliburton also asserts it can’t be made to contribute to payments BP makes to the plaintiffs without a legal obligation to do so.

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