BP's proven that it can and will continue to fight to keep from paying settlement fees to businesses that lack definitive proof that they've suffered economic losses from the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. In January, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to approve a multibillion dollar settlement, ruling that the terms of the deal required BP to pay up regardless of whether or not the claims were legitimate.
But while the company waits for the Supreme Court to hear its appeal, the justices announced Monday, it must continue to pay all claims, even the ones it's contesting. The AP reports:
Steve Herman and Jim Roy, lead attorneys for businesses and individuals who have filed claims against BP, said in a one-sentence statement that the order "will allow businesses to continue to receive the compensation they're rightly entitled to according to the objective, transparent formulas agreed to by BP."
BP will ask the high court to review whether it must pay claims without any apparent connection to the spill, company spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an emailed statement.
"The company continues to believe that the lifting of the injunction suspending the payment of business economic loss claims will allow hundreds of millions of dollars to be irretrievably scattered to claimants whose losses were not plausibly caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident," he wrote.
BP's already paid out about $12 billion in claims, and faces more penalties when it again stands trial, next January, for Clean Water Act violations. But it looks like this is one battle it's not going to win. Here's the AP again:
The order indicates that the high court is unlikely to hear BP's appeal, said Loyola University law professor Blaine LeCesne, who is not involved in the case. BP contends that that the claims administrator is misinterpreting its agreement with many businesses.
"It's obviously a major victory for the plaintiffs, who can now proceed with processing these business economic loss claims," he said. "Given the several months interim before the Supreme Court rules on the appeal, likely many of these claims will have been processed and paid."