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David Hammer / Eyewitness News
Email: dhammer@wwltv.com | Twitter: @davidhammerWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- A U.S. appeals court panel has denied BP's request to stop oil spill settlement payments and block the claims administrator from determining those payments while the oil giant appeals a lower court's ruling.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted BP an expedited appeal, but it would not agree to block the settlement payments in the meantime. BP is trying to argue that claims administrator Patrick Juneau is misinterpreting the settlement terms by paying certain business loss claims.

Three times since January, BP has asked the district court judge, Carl Barbier, to rule against his appointed claims administrator. He has refused, saying BP agreed to the terms as written.

BP says it never thought its agreement would lead to such huge payments for businesses it says suffered no losses due to the 2010 oil spill, but evidence has emerged suggesting that BP did know exactly how those claims would be paid under the settlement and pushed for its approval anyway.

Now, the cost of the settlement is rising, from an estimated $7.8 billion to $8.5 billion and more, and BP has tried to block certain payments.

The 5th Circuit agreed to schedule oral arguments in the appeal as soon as possible.

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