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Supreme Court tells BP to pay up, despite appeal

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The site of the oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform. Photograph by Kerry Sanders — NBC/NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that BP (BP), the British oil giant responsible for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, must make payments from a fund established after the disaster, despite a pending appeal.

The justices left in place a lower court’s refusal to stop payments while BP appeals a decision by a lower court that businesses don’t have to prove they were directly impacted by the oil spill to claim compensation.

The order, which was just one sentence long, said, “The application to recall and stay the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied.” The case, meanwhile, is called Exploration v. Lake Eugenie Land, 13A1177.

BP, however, asserts that some businesses are claiming payments unrelated to the oil spill.

According to Geoff Morrell, a BP spokesman, “BP looks forward to pursuing review by the US Supreme Court of the Fifth Circuit’s decisions relating to the compensation of claims with no apparent connection to the spill.” He added: “The company continues to believe that the lifting of the injunction suspending the payment of business economic loss claims will allow hundreds of millions of dollars to be irretrievably scattered to claimants whose losses were not plausibly caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident.”

The head lawyers for the spill victims said in a statement to Bloomberg: “We’re pleased that this denial of BP’s request for a stay will allow businesses to continue to receive the compensation they’re rightly entitled to according to the objective, transparent formulas agreed to by BP.”

The Supreme Court will decide later in 2014 when to take up BP’s appeal over the disputed payments.

In 2012, the initial cost of payments was expected to be about $7.8 billion. BP says that a claims administrator’s misinterpretation is responsible for bumping the price to the current $9.2 billion figure.