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Judge postpones liability trial in BP Gulf oil spill

By Michael Martinez and Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Thu May 3, 2012
A worker sucks up oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in Grand Isle, Louisiana, on June 9, 2010.
A worker sucks up oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in Grand Isle, Louisiana, on June 9, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The liability trial in the 2010 BP oil spill is moved to January, a judge orders
  • The trial had been scheduled for November
  • BP had asked for a delay as the court reviews a class-action settlement
  • 11 workers died and oil spewed for almost three months in the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion

(CNN) -- A federal judge in Louisiana on Thursday rescheduled the liability trial in the BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico and postponed it to early next year from later this year.

BP earlier asked the court to delay the liability trial until it decides whether to grant final approval to a class-action settlement that BP reached with attorneys representing thousands of businesses and individuals who made claims after the 2010 spill.

The new trial date is scheduled for January 14, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier ordered. The trial had been scheduled for November 8, 2012.

The oil disaster began on April 20, 2010, with a rig explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon. Eleven workers died.

2011: One year after Gulf oil disaster

Timeline of the Gulf oil disaster

The proposed settlement totals about $7.8 billion, including associated costs and expenses, but the company, in a statement, cautioned the final tally could be higher.

The settlement would be paid from a $20 billion trust, BP said.

Oil spewed into the sea for nearly three months before a cap was placed on the BP-owned Macondo well, nearly a mile beneath the surface.

The spill damaged coral reef formations, according to researchers. Scientists have previously confirmed that a plume of hydrocarbons from the well settled in the deep Gulf.

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