Uber-Chef Susan Spicer Serves Up A Suit


The rock-star New Orleans chef Susan Spicer has entered the oil spill spotlight, suing BP for damages to restaurants that have lost “normal” seafood supplies because of the gusher. She’s reportedly seeking a class-action suit for all area restaurants that have lost business.

She is certainly a celebrity chef. Her Bayona restaurant is among the more famous French Quarter eateries, and she’s won the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Southeast Region … it’s like getting a culinary Oscar.

What’s interesting, besides the idea itself, is that the administrator of the $20 billion BP fund has often used restaurants to illustrate impacted businesses that might be too far removed for compensation. Shortly after taking the post, Kenneth Feinberg went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and used out-of-region restaurants as a hypothetical issue for the fund.

And on PBS News Hour, responding to a question about what claims might not be allowed, Feinberg said: “First of all, fraudulent claims are illegitimate. They have to be valid claims. Secondly, we have got to decide how we’re going to make decisions on attenuated claims, the ripple effect.”

Then he turned to the hypothetical: “‘You know, Mr. Feinberg, I have a restaurant in Las Vegas. I can’t get shrimp from the Gulf. It’s hurting my business. I want to file a claim.’ We have got to come up with a formula that decides what claims are causally connected to the spill and what claims are simply too far removed to be eligible for compensation.”

He’s used the example easily a half-dozen times, albeit nearly always with an example well removed from the geographic areas of the spill – for some reason, Omaha has been noted. It will be big news when he finally draws the line.

See the PBS video here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june10/oil2_06-18.html

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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