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BP is still fighting with Gulf business owners over the billions businesses feel are owed under the Deepwater Horizon settlement, but the Fifth Circuit may have given BP a wakeup call with a small typo.
On Thursday night, in response to plaintiffs' motion to dismiss BP's request for an en banc rehearing of the settlement issues, the Court mistakenly issued this order -- granting the motion.
Another order quickly filed on Friday vacated the mistaken order, but how did the mix-up happen?
On Friday, the Fifth Circuit released this order explaining that BP may still get its shot at a rehearing en banc, but probably not before giving some BP counsel a heart attack. But the mistaken order wasn't a practical joke, simply a clerical error.
5th Circuit Deputy Clerk of Court Tom Plunkett explained to WWL-TV, the legal flub was "accidentally entered by a staff member who hit the wrong button." This explanation is a bit strange in light of the fact that the word "Granted" on the offending order appears to be handwritten.
But then again, the Fifth Circuit has been testing out some new software lately, so what's to say that the "Granted" signature isn't digitally stored?
No matter the reason for the court's woopsie-doodle (as they say down south), its second order was clear: BP's request for a hearing can proceed.
If you feel like you've heard this about BP before, it isn't deja-vu. BP has been in and out of the Fifth Circuit over this Deepwater Horizon settlement issue almost as often as those button-pressing court clerks.
Even with the settlement terms upheld in January, BP continues to rail against the possibility that they might have to pay for businesses' losses due to the Deepwater Horizon spill. They tried to get the settlement tossed due to class action rules, but Judges Dennis, Davis, and Garza disagreed.
Now BP hopes to have the entire Fifth Circuit hear its case against the current settlement structure, and it just might get it. Friday's order denying plaintiffs' motion to dismiss BP's rehearing petition isn't the same as an order granting BP's petition for an en banc hearing, but it does suggest the court is open to the idea.
Hopefully by then the clerk's office will have sussed out any remaining clerical errors.
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