BP files spill fraud suit against seafood workers' lawyer

LONDON Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:21am EST

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LONDON Dec 17 (Reuters) - Oil company BP Plc opened up a new front in its battle with litigants in its U.S. oil spill trial on Tuesday, filing a fraud suit against Mikal Watts, the lawyer who represented seamen claiming economic injury as a result of the disaster.

In a statement, BP said it had also asked for payments from the Seafood Settlement Compensation program, into which it has paid $2.3 billion, to be suspended while its allegations are investigated.

In its lawsuit BP claims some of Watts's clients were "phantoms" carrying social security numbers that belonged to either living people that were not the named claimants or in some cases to people who were dead.

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