BP and partners say most victims not yet entitled to sue

BP Plc and its partners in the blown-out Gulf well said on Monday that thousands of fishermen, seafood processors, restaurants, hotel owners and others may not yet have the right to sue over the spill, according to court papers.

BP and its partners such as Transocean Ltd and Halliburton Co said the majority of alleged victims who have brought about 400 lawsuits must first take their claims to a $20 billion fund established by BP.

The document was part of the defense team’s proposal for managing the case, which could become one of the largest and most costly in U.S. history.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys also filed their management proposal, in which they pressed the court to begin expanded discovery next month. They also proposed that by March they would identify test cases that would proceed to trial.