Gulf oil spill settlement not paying enough, some claimants say

While BP argues that businesses are reaping an unfair windfall from the settlement it reached with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, some businesses and individuals say they aren’t getting enough money or any money at all.

In papers filed Friday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, a group of claimants, including a real estate firm and several individuals, alleged that the terms of the settlement provide uneven or inconsistent compensation to claimants with similar losses.

One example of the alleged disparity, the court papers say, is how claimants on the west bank of the Sabine River, which runs along the Texas-Louisiana border, are being treated compared to those on the east bank. While the two areas are separated by only a few miles, claimants on the east bank, in Louisiana, are put to a less stringent test in establishing damages, the filing says.

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The group is asking the appeals court to reverse a lower court’s approval of the settlement, which was first reached in March 2012.

Separately, BP has an appeal pending before the same appeals court that claims the administrator has misinterpreted key terms in the deal, resulting in huge payouts to businesses that the company says suffered no losses at all.

BP owned the undersea well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, triggering an explosion on the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon rig  that killed 11 men. It took nearly three months to cap the runaway oil well.