BP fails to get out of compensating oil spill victims

An appeals court shut down the company's efforts to avoid paying damages

Published March 4, 2014 4:56PM (EST)

This article has been corrected since it first published.

Sorry, BP: You're still going to have to pay damages for the Gulf oil spill. A divided New Orleans appeals court ruled late Monday that the oil giant has to stick to the terms of its $9.2 billion settlement with the spill's victims.

The decision reverses an earlier ruling in BP's favor, and now requires the company to compensate even those businesses that can't directly trace their damages to the spill. From Reuters:

U.S. District Judge Barbier had ruled that BP would have to live with its earlier interpretation of a multi-billion dollar settlement agreement over the spill, in which certain businesses claiming losses were presumed to have suffered harm.

The company argued that this would allow businesses to recover for fictitious losses, but the 5th Circuit rejected its appeal.

"The settlement agreement does not require a claimant to submit evidence that the claim arose as a result of the oil spill," Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick wrote for the majority.

BP tried really hard to get out of doing this, launching an aggressive P.R. campaign in late 2013 attacking the victims and their lawyers and making itself out to be the victim. While it's declined to say how much the campaign cost, it involved lobbying, diplomacy and full-page newspaper ads, according to the Washington Post. But while the settlement's terms "are not as protective of BP's present concerns as might have been achievable," the judge wrote, "they are the protections that were accepted by the parties and approved by the district court."

By Lindsay Abrams

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