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Federal Judge Approves Medical Portion of $7.8 Billion BP Settlement

Source: Dow Jones

Posted on 14 Jan 2013 by Neilson

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BP SettlementA federal judge in New Orleans has granted final approval to the medical-benefits portion of BP PLC's (BP, BP.LN) $7.8 billion settlement to resolve claims related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's decision, which was expected, puts the court's further imprimatur on an agreement reached last year between the oil company and plaintiffs representing thousands of individuals and businesses hurt by the disaster.

The economic loss and property damage part of the settlement was approved by the court last month.

The claims stem from the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and subsequent oil spill, which released millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The medical claims class includes a range of individuals who may have health problems due to the spill, including the tens of thousands of spill clean-up workers, and some residents. Under the terms of the agreement, those individuals will be eligible for medical consultation for 21 years, and compensation for related physical ailments.

"BP is pleased that the court has granted approval to the PSC settlement resolving the substantial majority of legitimate medical claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement Friday.

Mr. Morrell called the decision "another critical 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."

The settlement effectively caps BP's liability for medical claims and economic damages. However, the company still faces potential damages and government fines related to the incident, which killed 11 workers.