* Settlements resolve some claims over 2010 spill
* BP sees $7.8 bln cost
* November 8 fairness hearing set
* BP still litigating with U.S., states, drilling partners
By Jonathan Stempel
May 2 BP Plc won preliminary court
approval of an estimated $7.8 billion settlement to resolve more
than 100,000 claims by individuals and businesses stemming from
the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The accord comprises two agreements, including one that
covers economic and property claims and one covering medical
In separate rulings on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Carl
Barbier in New Orleans said the agreements reached on March 2
were "fair, reasonable, and adequate," had "no obvious
deficiencies" and were reached without collusion.
He set a Nov. 8 fairness hearing to address objections, and
will then consider whether to grant final approval.
The settlement does not cover claims by the U.S. government
or Gulf Coast states, which could amount to tens of billions of
dollars, or resolve disputes between BP and its drilling
partners Transocean Ltd and Halliburton Co.
A comprehensive trial had been scheduled to begin on Feb.
27, but was postponed because BP was negotiating with the
BP has asked for a trial on remaining issues to be delayed
until after the fairness hearing, to avoid distraction from
"overlapping or parallel actions."
The U.S. government and states have said they prefer a
trial to begin this summer. They said granting BP's request
could push a trial into 2013 or later, and would be unfair to
Gulf Coast residents.
Barbier will hold a closed-door conference on Thursday to
discuss scheduling and other matters.
LARGEST U.S. OFFSHORE OIL SPILL
BP estimated that the settlement with private plaintiffs
would total $7.8 billion. At that amount, it would be one of the
largest class-action settlements in U.S. history.
There is no cap, the ultimate payout may be higher or
lower, and victims may opt out of the settlement and try to
The April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon
drilling rig killed 11 workers and triggered the largest U.S.
offshore oil spill from BP's ruptured Macondo well.
About 4.1 million barrels of oil were spilled and not
cleaned up, the U.S. government has estimated. Transocean owned
the rig, and Halliburton provided cementing services.
According to court papers, about 109,000 condominium
owners, hotel and resort operators, restaurateurs, shrimpers and
others may recover on economic and property claims.
The medical settlement addresses claims by people made ill
from exposure to oil or chemical dispersants. It covers clean-up
workers and residents of beachfront or wetland areas, and lets
people who later develop symptoms to sue BP at that time. About
16,000 plaintiffs have submitted claims, court papers show.
The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater
Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District
Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.