Judge rules to clarify earlier decision on oil spill lawyers’ fees

A federal judge has ruled that people pursuing their Gulf of Mexico oil spill claims against BP outside of federal court do not have to pay fees to hundreds of lawyers working on behalf of about 120,000 claimants fighting the oil giant in court.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier issued the ruling to clarify a previous ruling that left everyone still seeking damage payments from BP having to pay 6 percent of their claims to lawyers suing BP and other companies involved in the nation’s largest offshore oil spill. Now, people attempting to settle out of court won’t have to pay the trial lawyers.

Also, Barbier approved this week an agreement between plaintiffs’ attorneys and the states of Louisiana and Alabama to set aside 4 percent of damage payments to pay for attorneys’ fees. The states are seeking damages for lost tax revenues, overtime and other costs to their treasuries that resulted from the spill.