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18 Jan 2012

Rebecca Mowbray,Times-Picayune [USA]

Gulf of Mexico oil spill claimants who settle, but don't sue, exempted from paying into lawyer fund [USA]

People settling oil spill claims against BP who are not also involved in lawsuits will not have to set aside 6 percent of the settlement to pay lawyers, a federal judge ruled...U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's order narrows a previous decision about setting aside money to potentially compensate the committee of plaintiff attorneys pressing the case over the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. His decision creates an exemption for people getting money through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility who are not also involved in the massive litigation in New Orleans. The ruling also expands the scope of environmental recoveries exempted from setting aside a percentage of settlements for lawyers. Barbier...has been under fire for a Dec. 28 order that required a percentage of settlements to be held in escrow for possible payment to the committee of plaintiff attorneys leading the oil spill litigation, because it created confusion and raised questions about whether it was proper for everyone to be forced to contribute.