BP Plc’s $9.2 billion partial settlement over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was upheld by an appeals court over the company’s protest that the deal wasn’t valid unless a claims-payment dispute was resolved in its favor.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans yesterday also upheld a lower-court judge’s certification of the settling plaintiffs as a class and rejected arguments that the agreement couldn’t be approved because it inconsistently compensated victims with the same types of economic injuries.
BP originally supported class certification along with its settlement before arguing the agreement could be “salvaged” only if properly construed and implemented, the appeals court said. The plaintiffs meet the requirement for a class and certification can’t be blocked by the dispute over individual payments, which is being considered by a separate appellate panel, the court said.
“We cannot therefore conceive of why or how a formula for making voluntary payments under a settlement agreement could threaten the predominance of common questions over individual questions in litigation,” U.S. Circuit Judge W. Eugene Davis said in a 2-1 ruling. “Indeed the reason that BP has identified no authority for this proposition is that it is nonsensical.”