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Appeals court to hear BP challenge to settlement claims

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court is wading into a high-stakes dispute over the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement of claims arising from BP's massive Gulf oil spill.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Monday by attorneys for the London-based oil giant and for Gulf Coast businesses that claim the 2010 spill cost them money.

BP asserts that the judge who approved the deal and a court-appointed claims administrator have misinterpreted the settlement, allowing thousands of businesses to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in payments for inflated and fictitious losses.

Plaintiffs' attorneys who brokered the deal last year counter that BP undervalued the settlement and underestimated how many claimants would qualify for payments under the terms they negotiated.

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