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Federal judge tosses BP fuel dealers' brand-name claims regarding '10 spill

NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed claims by BP fuel stations and convenience stores that the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico diminished the value of the oil giant's brand and cost them business.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling says the dealers' claims against BP PLC aren't viable under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, general maritime law or state law.

Thomas Bleau, a lawyer for BP dealers Tobatex Inc. and M.R.M. Energy Inc., argued during a hearing last month that consumer animosity and bungling by BP corporate executives after the nation's worst offshore spill severely damaged the company's brand name. Switching brands wasn't an option for the dealers because many are locked into long-term contracts, he told Barbier.

The judge's ruling, however, says the BP dealers' allegations “do not state a claim for which relief may be granted.” He didn't pass judgment on whether BP dealers have viable claims for economic losses based on a decline in tourism after the spill.

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