BP on Tuesday accused a Texas lawyer of fraudulently driving up its settlement costs in the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill by claiming to represent tens of thousands of clients who turned out to be "phantoms."
In a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in New Orleans, the oil giant, which has been fighting the administration of a settlement with plaintiffs in the courtroom and in the news media, claimed that it relied on the client count supplied by the lawyer, Mikal C. Watts, in 2010 when it put $2.3 billion into a special compensation program for the seafood industry.
The company, citing "brazen fraud," is asking the court to allow it to stop payments and reclaim some of the unspent money.
The more than 40,000 deckhands claimed as clients by Mr. Watts constituted nearly 80 percent of the people projected to file claims under the program, the company said in court papers.
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