Sunday, November 3, 2013

Appeals court to review approval of BP settlement

A year ago, lawyers for BP and Gulf Coast residents and businesses took turns urging a federal judge to approve their settlement for compensating victims of the company's massive 2010 oil spill.

On Monday, however, the one-time allies will be at odds when an appeals court hears objections to the multibillion-dollar deal. That's because several months after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier approved the settlement, BP started complaining that the judge and court-appointed claims administrator were misinterpreting it. The London-based oil giant is worried it could be forced to pay billions of dollars more for bogus or inflated claims by businesses.

Plaintiffs' attorneys who brokered the deal want the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the class-action settlement.

As of Friday, payments have been made to more than 38,000 people and businesses for an estimated $3.7 billion. Tens of thousands more could file claims in the coming months.

The settlement doesn't have a cap, but BP initially estimated that it would pay roughly $7.8 billion to resolve the claims. Later, as it started to challenge the business payouts, the company said it no longer could give a reliable estimate for how much the deal will cost.

German Court Begins Hearing Afghan Airstrike Case

A court in Germany has begun hearing a civil case brought by relatives of some of the 91 Afghans killed in a NATO airstrike four years ago.

Bonn regional court spokesman Philipp Prietze said Wednesday that the court reviewed video recorded by two U.S. fighter jets involved in the airstrike in the Afghan province of Kunduz on Sept. 4, 2009.

The strike was ordered by a German colonel fearful that insurgents would use two stolen fuel tankers to attack his troops.

Germany paid $5,000 each to victims' families, but some are seeking additional compensation. Most of the dead were civilians.

Separately, Germany said it would offer refuge to 182 Afghan translators and drivers who could face persecution after Western troops leave Afghanistan because they worked for the German military.