Kyle Barnett Dec. 22, 2012, 8:42am

NEW ORLEANS - U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has brought  to a close a major class action lawsuit against British Petroleum for its part in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon gulf oil spill that affected the economic well being of many residents living on the gulf coast.

Barbier gave a preliminary approval on the $7.8 billion settlement in May before his final approval came on Friday, Dec. 21 after months of negotiations between attorneys representing the class and the those representing BP. The suit involved over 100,000 claims by individuals and businesses.

Included in the agreement is $2.3 billion to be paid to commercial fishermen and seafood producers. Although the settlement took care of the bulk of claims arising from the incident some litigants have opted out of the class action and are pursuing cases individually.

In addition to the settlement of the class action suit BP also pled guilty in November to criminal manslaughter charges brought by the Department of Justice for the death of 11 workers who were aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig when it exploded. The penalty in that case cost the corporation $4.5 billion, which will be paid out over a five year period.

The settlement brings BP closer to wrapping up the ordeal. However, the company is still subject to litigation brought by state and local governmental entities in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history and resulted in over five million barrels of oil gushing out of the broken well over nearly three months.

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