By Rebecca Mowbray, The Times-Picayune
Although there’s no guarantee a settlement will be reached, people who have been following the oil spill litigation say U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier wouldn’t have delayed the trial until next Monday if he didn’t think a deal was in reach to settle at least a portion of the case or possibly all of it. “I think it indicates that the parties were able to convince him that there was a realistic possibility of settling the private plaintiffs portion of the case,” said Blaine LeCesne, a Loyola tort law professor who has been following the case.
The litigation over the April 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 men and unleashed an 87-day oil spill, was scheduled to start Monday morning, but on Sunday afternoon, Barbier delayed it for a week to give BP more time to negotiate a settlement with some of the private plaintiffs in the case. Though settling with the private plaintiffs — a group that includes a range of individuals and businesses affected by the spill — would be a significant development, the litigation also involves claims brought by the states of Louisiana and Alabama well as the federal government.
Settlement talks between BP and the state and federal governments allegedly broke down weeks ago, but legal observers said Monday that the delay in the trial could put those talks back on track.
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