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Judge Tosses Challenge To BP Plea Deal

HOUSTON (CN) - The assertions of victims of a March 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City refinery that killed 15 and injured 170 that a plea agreement violated their rights under the Crime Victims' Rights Act, do not form a basis for rejecting the deal, Judge Lee Rosenthal ruled in Federal Court.

Due to the government's decision to not involve victims in plea negotiations because of the high number of litigants, and the possibility that media attention could compromise a settlement, victims contend BP's $50 million fine and probationary period are too lenient.

But Judge Rosenthal ruled on Feb. 21, "The fact that the victims did not have the opportunity to provide specific loss information to the government before the plea agreement was reached is not a basis to reject that plea."

About 4,000 civil claims were filed against BP after the explosion. Nearly half have been settled, for a total exceeding $1.6 billion.

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