BP has filed a formal petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that lower courts in New Orleans wrongly approved a multi-billion-dollar settlement that is paying claimants not hurt by the company's 2010 oil spill.
The petition has been expected since the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in May rejected BP's attempts to undo the damage settlement it agreed to and helped craft in 2012.
The British oil giant argued that several other circuit courts have found that class-action settlements should not be approved if they include people and businesses that were not actually hurt by the defendant's actions.
BP says court-appointed claims administrator Patrick Juneau has paid "more than $76 million to entities whose losses had nothing to do with the spill, as well as an additional $546 million to claimants that are located far from the spill and are engaged in businesses whose revenues and profits bear no logical connection to the spill."
BP says 130,000 pending claims could be affected. The latest public statistics for the settlement program show that 46,000 claimants have been paid so far. If the Supreme Court rules in BP's favor, it's unclear how it would affect those who have already been paid.
BP lost its previous arguments on this question before. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier and the 5th Circuit appellate court each ruled against BP because evidence clearly shows that BP's lawyers agreed to a settlement in which a business claimant's losses are assumed to come from the oil spill if that claimant is located in certain zones along the Gulf Coast and meets a basic formula for lost revenues and recovery.
BP's appellate lawyer initially argued in the 5th Circuit that BP agreed to pay businesses whose losses were not from the spill as part of a compromise, then later claimed that it should not have to pay anyone whose losses were from anything other than the spill.
The Supreme Court could decide in October whether to hear BP's appeal.