INJURED BP OIL SPILL SEAFOOD BUSINESSES ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE BP OIL SPILL SETTLEMENT IN YOUR AREA
Posted by: Christopher Dean
April 22, 2012
Topic: BP Oil Spill Claims
Blue crabs are a staple food demanded in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern areas of the country. Whether they know it or not, the majority of crabs consumers eat in these areas come from the Gulf of Mexico. Some studies say as much as 70-85% of live blue crabs harvested from the Gulf of Mexico are shipped to these areas. Given the devastation the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill wreaked on the blue crab population, availability of live blue crabs has decreased dramatically since the oil spill. Demand has not decreased, however, and prices have reacted.
Blue crab wholesalers, distributors, and restaurants have all felt the pain since the effects of the oil spill became real. Lack of availability of quality crabs and high prices continues to plague these businesses. The financial impact is significant, and many times severe. Wholesalers and distributors often lose customers, many of whom have been customers for decades, when they cannot supply the demands with quality crabs.
Given that the Northeast has been impacted significantly by an oil spill over a thousand miles away, you would think businesses in the area would be eligible to participate in the multi-billion dollar oil spill settlement announced yesterday. Apparently, that is not the case. It appears only businesses in certain areas of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida will be eligible to participate in that settlement. Although the financial impact of the spill clearly reaches all areas of the country, most of the country is not
included in the settlement.
This leaves many wondering why J. Christopher Dean, an attorney whose clients in the BP Oil Spill litigation includes blue crab wholesalers, distributors and restaurants located in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, has the same question. "The settlement designers know the details of the global impact the spill continues to have. It seems they concluded that they had to draw the line somewhere. Unfortunately, that line appears to exclude an enormous amount of people and businesses with significant financial losses."
BP and the plaintiffs attorneys representing thousands of claimants in the central BP Oil Spill lawsuit negotiated this class action settlement. Yesterday, BP and the plaintiffs lawyers jointly submitted to the federal court overseeing these lawsuits the details of the settlement for preliminary approval. According to those filings and previous press releases by those parties, $2.3 billion of the $7.8 billion settlement is dedicated to the seafood industry, at least to those in the industry that are eligible to participate. "Honestly, the seafood portion of the settlement reminds me of the story from the Bible about five loaves and two fish: it will take a miracle for that money to be enough to compensate all of the seafood businesses harmed by the oil spill," Dean says of the court filings.
Dean is not discouraged that his clients from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states appear to be excluded for the class action settlement. "While my clients and I were hoping to settle these matters without filing a lawsuit, the choice is now clear. I will soon be filing my seafood industry cases, including the blue crab cases. I have pursued BP before, and will do so again here." Dean helped lead the team of lawyers suing BP for the BP Texas City Refinery explosion that occurred on March 23, 2005, that killed 15 workers and injured hundreds of others. The overall settlement of those cases involved billions of dollars. Dean said he will not speculate about his odds of success in court for businesses not included in the class action settlement, but adds, "BP has accepted responsibility for this disaster. I applaud them for that. Now it is time for them to account for people and businesses that do not live near the Gulf but nevertheless feel the devastating ripple effects of the disaster there."
April 20th marks the two year anniversary of the explosion that caused the oil spill. How long lasting the effects of the BP Oil Spill will be on the blue crab market and other seafood industries remains unclear. Dean says,"What is clear, is the time limit for businesses to file claims. If people wait until this time next year to file, it will be too late."
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