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Federal judge urged to approve BP settlement

NEW ORLEANS — BP and attorneys for businesses and people who lost money in the Gulf oil spill urged a federal judge Thursday to give his final approval to a class-action settlement.

US District Judge Carl Barbier heard arguments from lawyers who negotiated the deal as well as other attorneys who have objected to parts of it. BP PLC estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve the claims, but the settlement is not capped and BP could pay out more or less.

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Barbier, who has hinted he won’t rule immediately, said the hearing was designed to help him determine if the settlement is ‘‘fair, reasonable, and adequate’’ and that he doesn’t have the authority to rewrite or renegotiate it.

Barbier preliminarily approved the agreement in May. Since then, thousands of people have opted out of the deal to pursue their claims individually. BP attorney Rick Godfrey said fewer people opted out than expected.

Jim Roy, a lead plaintiffs’ attorney, said the settlement could resolve more than 100,000 claims.

‘‘This settlement provides the class with an opportunity to try to put this behind them and get on with their lives,’’ he said.

BP has agreed to pay $2.3 billion for seafood-related claims by commercial fishing vessel owners, captains, and deckhands. The amount is nearly five times more than the average industry revenue between 2007 and 2009, Godfrey said.

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