The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

BP will ask Supreme Court to weigh in on whether spill claims require proof of direct harm

  • Print

NEW ORLEANS - BP PLC said Wednesday it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether businesses must prove they were directly harmed by the 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect payments from a 2012 settlement.

The announcement came two days after judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 8-5 against reconsidering the issue. A three-judge panel of the circuit court in March had upheld a district court ruling that businesses did not need to prove direct harm.

BP initially estimated it would pay roughly $7.8 billion to resolve spill claims. The company later said the claims administrator was misinterpreting the settlement in ways that could add billions of dollars worth of bogus or inflated claims and it could no longer estimate the deal's ultimate cost.

"No company would agree to pay for losses that it did not cause, and BP certainly did not when it entered into this settlement," the company said in a news release.

BP also said it will ask the 5th Circuit to keep the current freeze on claims payments in place until the Supreme Court considers the issue.

Writing for the majority of the 5th Circuit Monday, Judge Leslie Southwick wrote that court exhibits include a 2012 policy statement, issued by the court-appointed claims administrator and developed with "input and assent from BP" that spelled out the criteria for business claims including geographic zones, types of businesses involved, formulas used to present the case for economic loss and "various presumptions regarding causation that apply to specific combinations of those criteria."

There has been no dispute that some Gulf Coast businesses, including those that were tourism-based and fisheries-related interests, lost money because of oil on beaches or the closure of fishing waters after the spill. However, BP argues that the claims administrator's interpretation of the 2012 settlement, using pre- and post-spill revenue and expenses, has led to unwarranted claims from businesses with losses that cannot be linked to the spill. Examples cited by the oil giant — and in a strongly worded 5th Circuit dissent by Judge Edith Brown Clement — include a wireless telephone company that burned to the ground and an RV park that closed before the spill.

Clement, in her dissent Monday, said the majority ruling upholding such claims made the court "party to this fraud."

BP cited that dissent in its news release announcing plans to seek Supreme Court review.

"The dissenting opinions emphasize that the issues raised by BP 'present questions of exceptional importance,' reflect a deep divide in approaches among the federal appellate courts, and merit Supreme Court review.

The oil spill resulted from the April 20, 2010, explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana. The explosion killed 11 workers and resulted in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

BP says it has paid out more than $12 billion in claims to people, businesses and government entities. A trial scheduled for January in New Orleans is part of the litigation that will determine how much the oil giant owes in federal Clean Water Act penalties.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


O'Shea says the team is going to stick to the plan after first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Should political leaders be highly visible on the frontlines of flood fights and other natural disasters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google