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BP Payouts Are Upheld; An Appeal Is Likely
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BP Payouts Are Upheld; An Appeal Is Likely

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - BP can proceed with its appeal of the way a court-appointed administrator apportions payments for claims related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, some of which BP has called "absurd," according to a federal judge's ruling on Friday.

Federal District Judge Carl Barbier said he found no reason to reverse his decision last month to uphold the payout process. BP had protested payouts including $21 million for a Louisiana rice mill 40 miles from the coast, which earned more revenue in 2010 than in any of the previous three years.

The hearing in New Orleans federal court revisited a part of BP's liability laundry list that seemed settled last year when it agreed to terms on economic, property and medical compensation for individuals and businesses that filed a class-action lawsuit.

As of Friday, more than 160,000 claims had been submitted under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement, according to the settlement Web site, and a total of $1.87 billion of payments had been made on 27,488 claims.

The source of dispute is the calculation of business economic losses, for which $743 million has been paid out on 4,461 claims, according to the site.

BP initially estimated the overall settlement bill at $7.8 billion, but the total is uncapped, and it is dependent on decisions made by Patrick A. Juneau, a Louisiana lawyer who administers the payments under complex rules set out by the agreement.

"BP believes today's proceedings and the related filings were necessary steps on the way to appellate review," the company said in a statement on Friday, confirming it had filed a notice of appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that is the next step in the federal judicial hierarchy.

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