BP Mounts Ad Campaign in Spill Settlement Dispute

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -

BP is placing a full-page advertisement in three of the nation’s largest newspapers on Wednesday as the company mounts an aggressive campaign to challenge what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses following its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The ad, scheduled to run in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, accuses “trial lawyers and some politicians” of encouraging Gulf Coast businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or non-existent losses.

“Whatever you think about BP, we can all agree that it’s wrong for anyone to take money they don’t deserve,” the ad says. “And it’s unfair to everyone in the Gulf — commercial fishermen, restaurant and hotel owners, and all the other hard-working people who’ve filed legitimate claims for real losses.”

In April, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP PLC’s request to block all payouts to businesses through a multi-billion dollar settlement it reached with a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys. The London-based oil giant appealed the decision. A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the case on July 8.

BP’s ad claims Barbier’s ruling “interprets the settlement in a way no one intended,” resulting in settlement payouts to businesses that didn’t suffer any spill-related losses.

“Even though we’re appealing the misinterpretation of the agreement, we want you to know that the litigation over this issue has not in any way changed our commitment to the Gulf,” it says.