Judge Allows Gulf Oil Spill Settlement to Proceed

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New Orleans, LA (AP) - A federal judge in New Orleans has preliminarily approved a proposed class-action settlement that would resolve billions of dollars in claims against BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling Wednesday allows the settlement process to proceed, but he will hold a "fairness hearing" later this year before deciding whether to give his final approval.

The deal between BP and a team of plaintiffs' attorneys is designed to resolve more than 100,000 claims by people and businesses who blame the spill for economic losses.

London-based BP PLC estimates it will pay about $7.8 billion to resolve these claims, but the settlement isn't capped.

The deal announced March 2 was spelled out in hundreds of pages of documents filed last month.