Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NEW ORLEANS: BP fights on to oust oil spill claims chief | National Business | SanLuisObispo

NEW ORLEANS: BP fights on to oust oil spill claims chief | National Business | SanLuis Obispo "NEW ORLEANS — AP

BP is heading to a federal appeals court in its effort to oust the administrator of damage settlement claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The company filed notice Tuesday that it plans to file with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

BP has long complained about Patrick Juneau's administration of claims. 

It sought his removal by a federal judge in motions claiming that he had a conflict of interest because he once represented Louisiana in talks setting up the claims process and had pushed for favorable terms for those with claims.

The company also said he had made misleading statements about that work before being named claims administrator. And they said Juneau improperly expedited claims for some people represented by the plaintiffs' steering committee. 

 U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier flatly rejected BP's arguments in an order last week. He said Juneau had disclosed his previous work to BP before being selected as administrator. He also said that BP used an out-of-context statement in its accusations against Juneau and that there was no evidence that any claims were improperly expedited.

 "BP has appealed that order as it continues its efforts to bring the integrity and transparency to the Gulf claims program that was promised at its inception and that is sorely needed today," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an emailed statement. 

 In a related development Tuesday, Barbier approved plans for a second round of claims to be paid from a $2.3 billion seafood compensation program. He adopted recommendations from a group of third-party lawyers, referred to throughout his order and the court record as "the Neutrals," recommending disbursement of up to $500 million in seafood claims.

Barbier's latest order comes despite worries from BP about errors and fraud in the seafood compensation program. The judge said there are sufficient safeguards in place to root out fraud and prevent and correct errors."

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