Sinclair Oil objects to BP's Hartford settlement

Steve Korris Oct. 31, 2008, 5:41am


Attorneys who settled class action claims against British Petroleum Products North America over pollution in Hartford improperly freed BP from liability to Sinclair Oil, according to Sinclair attorney Joseph Nassif.

On Oct. 20 Nassif filed an objection to a $19.5 million settlement that BP and plaintiff attorneys announced on Oct. 7.

"Sinclair has a breach of contract claim against BP for its alleged gross negligence for placing the Sinclair pipeline into service," Nassif wrote.

He objected to the proposed allocation of settlement funds too, because it provided no setoff for damages for which Sinclair is ultimately found liable.

Under Illinois law, he wrote, "recovery against Sinclair must be reduced by the amount of the settlement agreement attributable to any injury for which Sinclair and the BP Entities are jointly and severally liable."

He also alleged that class members will receive distributions from the settlement fund with little regard for actual injury.

Sinclair's objection did not deter Circuit Judge Daniel Stack from granting preliminary approval to BP's settlement.

Stack hasn't set a hearing on final approval.

Earlier this year, Shell Oil subsidiary Equilon and Clark Oil successor Premcor Refining settled Hartford contamination claims for $16 million.

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