Claims denied for multi-million dollar oyster company (VIDEO)


PLAQUEMINES, La. – Curt Pannagl’s Plaquemines Parish seafood dock was once filled with boats and equipment. But seven months after the BP oil disaster began, the dock stands empty.

Pannagl said it, like his two oyster boats and multi-million dollar oyster brokerage company, have been at a standstill because of the spill.

“I’ve been out of business completely, and there’s been no money coming, and BP has not paid me for it,’ said Pannagl.

The oyster broker found out just days ago that one of his claims was denied.

According to Pannagl, BP told him his oyster brokerage company, Breton Sound, hadn’t suffered any damages from the spill. But Pannagl said the company, which sold $4 million in oysters last year, isn’t operating because of the spill.

“I can’t get any answers but I haven’t sold any oysters since May 31, 2010,” said Pannagl.

While Pannagl did receive a settlement for one of his oyster boats, he believes it was only a fraction of what should have been paid. And he believes there are disparities in the claims process.

“They’re giving bartenders and people that don’t even file taxes more money than that,” said Pannagl. “I know people that haven’t even been in the oyster business getting checks for $76,000, $50,000, $110,000 – crazy numbers.”

So far, just over 395,000 people have filed claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Less than a third have been approved, and 14 percent have been denied. The rest are under review or require more documentation.

Meanwhile, those like Pannagl are hoping to get what they believe is their fair share.

“You can’t sit there and dig into your piggy bank and invest back into this business until BP steps up to the plate,” said Pannagl.

WWL-TV’s calls to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and BP were not returned.

The deadline to submit claims for emergency advance payments is Tuesday, November 23.

See video here:

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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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