WESTWEGO, La. – Commercial fishermen have lined up since summer to be compensated for wages lost due to the BP oil spill and now, thousands of recreational fishermen are trying to do the same.
“Get your fishing license and drivers license out,” said a police officer at the front door of the Mona Lisa Lounge in Westwego.
On Monday and Tuesday, more than 1,200 fishermen braved the bitter cold for the chance at cold hard cash.
“Oh, we’re waiting in line for some BP money,” said fisherman Josh Zelaya.
Mary Monfra said she and her husband, Edward Monfra, got in line at 10 a.m. They were not surprised that so many people showed up.
“This has been a difficult year for you all. They cut everything out – you couldn’t fish. It got bad for a little while,” Monfra said.
The line curled around the block outside the venue while inside, a group of attorneys talked with fishermen about joining a class action lawsuit.
“Those who qualify for a claim against BP are: people who had a recreational fishing license who were denied the right to fish for food,” said Bob Jones, a lawyer with Porter Malouf Law Firm in Alabama.
At this point, lawyers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are collecting signatures.
“We hope they’ll pay it out of that $20 billion compensation fund, but if not – it will be in court and a jury will decide,” said Jones.
Attorneys said it will not cost fishermen any money if the class action lawsuit doesn’t yield any money. That’s fine for folks like the Monfras.
“Every little bit helps,” said Edward as he looked down at this wife.
“If we get it, we get it. If we don’t, we don’t,” added his wife Mary.
This is yet another in a series of class action lawsuits filed since the BP oil spill last April.
Fishermen can sign up with any attorney they want to. This group of attorneys will be back on Jan. 18 at the same location and at the Elks Lodge in Gretna on Jan. 6 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.