NEW ORLEANS – The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied BP’s motion to keep a stay in place to block thousands of business claims payments while the oil giant appeals its settlement to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But that does not mean the payments can start flowing again. The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure say the court should take seven days to issue a mandate lifting the stay, and that seven days should start counting from when the motion to stay is denied.
The ruling against BP's motion to stay on Tuesday was not unexpected. The same appeals court had just shot down BP’s effort to reinterpret its multi-billion-dollar claims settlement with private businesses. BP had argued that more than 1,000 undeserving businesses had been paid by the settlement’s court-appointed claims administrator.
But the district court and the appeals court have both ruled that BP clearly agreed to pay some businesses whose losses may have stemmed from factors other than the oil spill as long as they met a financial test and were located in certain places along the Gulf Coast.
The denial of the stay means the previous block on payments, imposed in December, could be lifted next week. But BP already says it will ask the Supreme Court directly to put a new stay in place while the High Court considers whether to hear BP’s case.
"We are disappointed and will seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court of this ruling," BP Vice President Geoff Morrell said in a statement emailed to WWL-TV.
BP has a potentially powerful ally in that effort. The Supreme Court justice assigned to the 5th Circuit is Antonin Scalia. He has granted such special injunctions in the past, in one case acting on his own to delay a settlement payment for eight months, even though the Supreme Court ended up not agreeing to hear the case.
Also, Scalia’s son, Eugene, is a partner at Gibson Dunn, the law firm representing BP in its appeal.