By Erin Geiger Smith
(Reuters) - The Attorney General for the State of Florida has asked a federal court to delay granting preliminary approval of BP Plc's $7.8 billion settlement with businesses and individuals suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Attorney General Pamela Bondi, representing her constituents, said in a filing in Louisiana federal court on Friday that there is not enough information available about the settlement terms.
She asked that the court "delay any immediate decision on the preliminary approval" of the settlement and to establish a schedule to allow interested parties an opportunity to review the settlement.
The settlement requires approval from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.
London-based BP reached the agreement in early March with the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, or PSC, which represents condominium owners, fishermen, hoteliers, restaurateurs and others who say their livelihoods were damaged by the April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and subsequent oil spill. The settlement came just before a three-part trial was scheduled to begin in New Orleans.
Lawyers for the PSC did not immediately respond to requests for comment; BP also did not immediately respond.
The proposed settlement would resolve only one part of BP's legal fight stemming from the explosion. It continues to face charges brought by the U.S. government, as well as lawsuits from five U.S. states whose coastlines were oiled, and its partners in the ill-fated well.
A delay in the preliminary approval could slow down those other parts of the litigation, as well as result in further delays in payments for those who businesses suffered due to the oil spill. In an order issued when the settlement was announced, Judge Barbier said it "would likely result in a realignment of the parties in this litigation and requires substantial changes" to the trial plan.
The two year anniversary of the explosion, which killed 11 people, is one week from Friday.
The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon," U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-02179.
(Reporting By Erin Geiger Smith; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)
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