Oil-spill-related defamation suits resolved after mediation

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An attorney who once worked in the claims-processing office for the 2010 BP oil spill has agreed to dismiss lawsuits claiming she was defamed and wrongfully fired.

Court records show all parties agreed to the dismissal of Christine Reitano's lawsuits Tuesday, three months after a judge ordered mediation.

Reitano had sued BP, claims administrator Patrick Juneau, and court-appointed claims watchdog Louis Freeh, a former FBI director. In a 2013 report, Freeh had alleged unethical behavior by Reitano and others.

A federal judge cleared Reitano.

"The cases were resolved through mediation, resulting in a mutually agreed settlement," Mary Olive Pierson, Reitano's attorney, said Wednesday.

Details of the agreement were not released.

BP and Juneau declined comment. A statement from Freeh and his risk-management firm — both named as defendants in one of the suits — said Reitano dismissed her case. It said Freeh and his firm "did not agree to any settlement with Ms. Reitano on any of her claims."

Freeh had argued in a 2015 court filing that he was legally immune from the claims as a court-appointed special master.

Reitano and her husband, Lionel Sutton III, both previously worked for the court-supervised claims-processing facility.

Freeh's report accused two private attorneys of using Sutton's position in the settlement program to benefit their clients' claims. In return, the report said, Sutton received more than $40,000 in fees for referring a claimant to their law firm before he joined Juneau's staff.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans barred Sutton and the other two attorneys from handling claims from the 2010 spill.

Freeh's report had also alleged ethical violations, false statements and a conflict of interest involving Reitano.

Barbier cleared Reitano, who said in one lawsuit that she had provided Freeh with evidence contradicting the accusations.

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