Image courtesy of BP.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that BP can not recoup hundreds of millions of dollars the company said it overpaid to settle damage claims for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill before new accounting rules were adopted.

BP alleged that some of the payments it made were inflated. The company wanted to be able to take claim back some of the money back.

Last year, the court sided with a motion filed by BP that argued accounting methods used to determine the size of payments were too lax.

The office that processes the claims for payment was ordered to adopt new accounting methods that are friendlier to BP.

However, the court said Wednesday that because the disputed claims were paid out before the rule change, BP cannot claw back the money.

“The fact that the decision and the interpretation were later reversed does not equate to fraud or anything close to it by these claimants,” U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier said.

In 2012, BP signed a settlement agreement with lawyers representing spill victims that said future changes to how payments were calculated could not retroactively be applied to payments made before the changes.

The company argued that although it signed the agreement, enforcement was “hijacked” by claims administrators and the agreement was purposefully misinterpreted and exploited.

Earlier this month, BP was found guilty of willful misconduct and gross negligence for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and caused one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history.

The company initially expected to pay about $7.8 billion in damages through an uncapped agreement. However, the final total could be substantially higher.

So far, BP has been hit with over $42 billion in charges for the accident.


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