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Feb 25, 2013 8:18 AM by ASSOCIATED PRESS

Trial set to open for Gulf oil spill litigation

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge in New Orleans is set to preside over a high-stakes trial for the raft of litigation spawned by a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Barring an 11th-hour settlement, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will hear several hours of opening statements today by lawyers for the companies involved in the 2010 spill and the government and private plaintiffs who sued them. Barbier, not a jury, could decide how much more money is owed by BP PLC and its partners on the ill-fated drilling project.

BP has said it already has racked up more than $24 billion in spill-related expenses and has estimated it will pay a total of $42 billion to fully resolve its liability for the disaster.

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