A group of plaintiffs’ lawyers have urged a US federal court judge not to consider BP’s proposal to temporarily halt settlement payments to the victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, which occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, killing 11 people.
Earlier this week, BP requested US federal court judge Carl Barbier halt oil spill payments while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates alleged misconduct by a lawyer who worked on the programme, reported Bloomberg Businessweek.
The lawyer in question, Lionel H. Sutton III, is alleged to have received a portion of settlement proceeds for claims he had referred to a law firm before joining Janeau’s team.
The court is scheduled to hear BP’s arguments on Friday.
Sutton and his wife, Christine Reitano, who also worked for the settlement programme, are no longer involved with the programme.
In the filing, the lawyers said the British oil and gas explorer has not given any proof that court-supervised claims administrator Patrick Juneau has inappropriately paid any claims or wrongfully implemented any policies.
In its submission to the court, BP said Barbier and Juneau have misinterepretated settlements and forced the company to pay businesses for inflated and fictitious losses.
BP earlier this week said in a court filing that it shouldn’t be required to take the risk that hundreds of millions of dollars in claims payments could be "tainted by fraud, corruption and malfeasance."
In 2012, the company reached a $7.8bn settlement with thousands of people and businesses which were affected by the disaster.
British BP said this amount will not be sufficient to pay all the claims if court-appointed attorney Patrick Juneau continues to award "excessive and unwarranted" compensation to claimants.
Image: Burning gas from Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Photo courtesy of PO3 Patrick Kelle.