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    Remaining Four BP Trial Plaintiffs Settled

    Just seven cases remain out of about 4,000 filed; last trial date set for September.

    GALVESTON, Texas -- The four remaining plaintiffs in the latest civil trial stemming from the 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City refinery have settled their claims, leaving just seven cases pending out of about 4,000 claims filed, the Houston Chronicle reported.

    The plaintiffs settled late Monday as BP was winding down its defense case in the ninth week of the trial. State District Judge Susan Criss, who has presided over the vast explosion-related litigation, has set a last trial date in September and said lawyers on both sides believe only two disputed claims could end up going to trial at that time.

    Two other blast-related trials last year ended in settlements. Accords were reached in those cases before plaintiffs finished presenting evidence, but the current case lasted long enough for BP to mount a defense for the first time, the newspaper stated.

    The amounts of the settlements, as most of those previously reached, were undisclosed. The current case started with 10 plaintiffs, but six settled earlier this month.

    Lance Lubel, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, offered BP a tempered compliment. "Despite all the misery BP caused in the explosion, its leadership handled the resolution of these cases with a world-class effort. For that, they should be commended," he said.

    In a prepared statement issued after Criss announced the latest settlements, BP said it was glad almost all the civil complaints have been adjudicated. "Our goal from the outset has been to fairly compensate people harmed by this tragedy. We deeply regret what occurred and are working hard to become an industry leader in the areas of personal and process safety," the company said in the statement.

    The blast happened when a tower overfilled with hydrocarbons, which flowed to a blowdown stack that spewed the excess liquid and vapor into the air. A vapor cloud formed and ignited, causing the explosion in a processing unit that boosted octane in gasoline. The blast killed 15 people, and injured scores more.

    BP earmarked $2.1 billion to settle blast-related litigation, and worked early to resolve claims involving deaths and debilitating injuries, such as lost limbs, the report stated.

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