Judge holding fairness hearing on oil spill class-action claims

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in New Orleans is set to preside over a fairness hearing for a proposed class-action settlement of economic damage claims spawned by BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

During today’s hearing, the London-based oil giant and a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys will urge U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to give his final approval to the agreement. The judge also will hear from other plaintiffs’ attorneys who object to portions of the deal.

BP estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve claims through the uncapped settlement.

The agreement doesn’t resolve claims by the federal government and Gulf states.

A trial next year is designed to identify causes of BP’s well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved in the disaster.

In a separate oil spill-related item, more than 100 nonprofit groups and government entities have been picked to get shares of $43.7 million in BP funds to promote the Gulf Coast’s tourism and seafood industries following the company’s 2010 oil spill.

The first round of grants announced yesterday by court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau is part of a proposed class-action settlement between BP and a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The deal calls for BP to fund a total of $57 million in tourism and seafood promotion grants.

The 110 grant recipients were picked from a pool of more than 350 applicants.

In Louisiana, 43 recipients will get $15.9 million. In Florida, 33 organizations will receive $13.4 million. In Alabama, 21 groups will get $8.3 million. In Mississippi, 13 organizations will get $6 million.

“The grants should go a long way toward bolstering the Gulf’s tourism and seafood industries and help revitalize the region’s economy,” lead plaintiffs’ attorneys Steve Herman and Jim Roy said in a statement.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the grants “provide significant benefits to members of the class and to the entire Gulf region.”

 

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