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Rebel claimants in BP spill settlement get expedited hearing

BP logo is seen at a fuel station of British oil company BP in St. Petersburg, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
BP logo is seen at a fuel station of British oil company BP in St. Petersburg, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court will hold an expedited hearing for a small group of claimants in a Gulf spill settlement with BP Plc, with oral arguments set for the week of November 4, the court said on Friday.

BP's settlement with individuals and businesses affected by the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico was appealed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by certain claimants who argue it was not favorable enough to them. BP estimates the total cost of all payouts in that deal will end up being $9.6 billion, but the figure is uncapped, and expected to grow.

BP had launched its own separate appeal with the New Orleans appeals court over how the business economic claims were being paid out under the settlement. Oral arguments in that case were heard on July 8, and a ruling is still awaited.

In a filing this week, lawyers who negotiated the deal for the plaintiffs said that while more than 200,000 members of the class had filed claims in the court-supervised settlement program, only five groups of objectors filed appellate briefs.

The appeals effort is running alongside the main case on liability and damages for the 2010 disaster, which is being heard by Judge Carl Barbier and due to start up again at the end of this month. That case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.

The expedited appeals case is "Lake Eugenie Land & Development Inc, et al. vs BP Exploration & Production Inc et al." No. 13-30095, while BP's appeal is "BP Exploration & Production Inc et al. vs Lake Eugenie Land & Development Inc, et al." No. 13-30329. Both are in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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