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Federal Judge OKs Deal in BP Gulf Class Action Suit

NEW ORLEANS -- Seven months after giving preliminary approval of BP's settlement with a majority of businesses and individuals who lost money as a result of the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the same federal judge has issued final approval.

BP plc has estimated it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve economic and medical claims from more than 100,000 businesses and individuals hurt by the nation's worst offshore oil spill, which occurred after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The settlement has no cap; the company could end up paying more or less, according to the Associated Press.

The agreement covers people and businesses in Louisiana; Mississippi; Alabama; some coastal counties in eastern Texas and western Florida; and in adjacent Gulf waters and bays.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who gave his preliminary approval in May, made it final in a 125-page ruling released Friday evening. "None of the objections, whether filed on the objections docket or elsewhere, have shown the settlement to be anything other than fair, reasonable, and adequate," he wrote.

After Barbier's preliminary approval in May, thousands of people opted out of the settlement to pursue their cases individually, the news outlet reported. More than 1,700 changed their minds and asked to be added back in by a Dec. 15 deadline, Barbier said.

"BP is pleased that the court has granted approval to the [Plaintiffs' Steering Committee] settlement resolving the substantial majority of legitimate economic loss and property damage claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident. We believe the settlement, which avoids years of lengthy litigation, is good for the people, businesses and communities of the Gulf and is in the best interests of BP's stakeholders," the company said in statement. "[The] decision by the court is another important step forward for BP in meeting its commitment to economic and environmental restoration efforts in the Gulf and in eliminating legal risk facing the company."

According to the Associated Press, there is still a lot of litigation left, including a trial to identify the causes of BP's blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved, Barbier wrote. That trial is scheduled next year.

Barbier has not ruled on a medical settlement for cleanup workers and others who say exposure to oil or dispersants made them sick.


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