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BP appeals settlement claims for what it calls 'fictitious' losses

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Story highlights

  • BP has been a target since the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
  • Earlier this month, a judge sided against BP in ongoing settlement talks
  • BP says some payments "will constitute irreparable harm" to the company

BP appealed Friday for a halt to settlements to those affected by the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, because of what it says are "hundreds of millions of dollars, and what could reach billions of dollars, in awards to claims asserting fictitious losses."

"Any such payment will constitute irreparable harm," the energy giant argued. "Therefore, an expedited hearing is necessary."

Such a hearing is now scheduled for March 22, after the court granted BP's emergency motion.

The legal debate is part of the widespread fallout from the oil spill -- the worst in U.S. history -- which began after a rig explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf. Eleven workers died.

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Roughly 205 million gallons of oil spewed into the sea for nearly three months before a cap was placed on the BP-owned Macondo well, nearly a mile beneath the surface.

Since then, the oil company has promised and paid out some settlement funds, while fighting others in court.

    Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier Jr. considered BP's contention that a January 15 decision by the claims administrator about how settlements would be distributed.

    BP had argued that the set-up would produce "absurd" results.

    And yet Barbier sided against BP in a March 5 decision.

    "The court adopts Class Counsel's interpretation as it is most in line with the rest of the settlement agreement," the judge wrote.