DESTIN, FL (June 5, 2010)—Florida business owners, residents and those impacted by the Gulf oil catastrophe can learn more about the claims process established by BP at a series of seminars where attorneys will explain new protections for seeking damages.
Since May 15, attorneys who are handling claims related to the Gulf oil spill recovery by property and business owners in the Florida Panhandle, as well as fishermen in Louisiana and Gulf Coast states, have sought a federal court and/or a “special master” to provide oversight and guidance in the claims processing program initiated by BP.
The claims were filed as a result of damages and loss income due to the expanding DEEPWATER HORIZON catastrophe. As these claimants continue to seek judicial oversight and/or a “special master” in U.S. District Court, Eastern District, BP has agreed to add definition to its claims process, according to Attorney Stuart Smith, Smith Stag LLC.
Mr. Smith is working with an association of affiliated attorneys from Texas to Florida representing the United Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and businesses impacted by the Gulf oil disaster.
“Because of our efforts, we’ve gone from a completely arbitrary and verbal BP claims process to one which requires a written form, guarantees of confidentiality for claimants’ financial information, and pledges that individuals who have retained legal counsel cannot be discriminated against in the process,” said Mr. Smith.
“These guarantees, made in reaction to the pleadings of Louisiana fisherman, are extended to all U.S. citizens and now strengthened thanks to the interests of Florida landowners and businesses.”
Mr. Smith said these new agreements with the managing attorneys of BP Oil Spill Claims of Houston, include:
1) A claim, when made under the Oil Pollution Act, will be given a claim number; but the 90-day window for BP to adjust the claim prior to further legal action will only begin once a claim with application substantiation has been filed.
2) BP acknowledges that most claims being processed at this time are income replacement claims and not claims for natural resources subsistence;
3) With business interruption claims, fixed costs must be documented such as vessel or building maintenance, or other expenses;
4) With respect to businesses with a large number of employees who may have to be laid off, BP would like to deal with the businesses and their attorneys for all of those claims, and let the business be the contact with the employee.
Mr. Smith said negotiations with BP continue in order to achieve a fair and transparent claim process. He said these and other issues will be discussed at free seminars in Florida featuring scientific experts an Certified Public accountants with Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC. Subjects include, what has happened at the Deep Water Horizon site since the explosion; what caused it; what are the likely consequences from an oceanographic and marine biology point of view; what are the potential human health risks; and how one documents damages.
These events are:
|Tuesday, June 8||5:30 p.m.||Destin||Emerald Grande
|Wednesday, June 9||5:30 p.m.||Panama City||Boatyard Restaurant