Dunedin Can Make Claim from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Law Firm Says
Despite being past deadline to file a claim, a high-powered litigation firm wants Dunedin to join Pinellas County and several surrounding cities in filing claims against oil companies deemed responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
Dunedin is well past the deadline to file a claim against oil companies deemed responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
But a high-powered, national plaintiff litigation firm is approaching city officials Thursday about filing a claim anyway.
Tourists were scared away, local businesses hemorrhaged and fishing livelihoods were ruined along the entire Gulf coast in the aftermath of the oil spill.
And the City of Dunedin, a coastal hamlet in Pinellas County, the most popular tourism destination on Florida's west coast, surely took a hit, says Motley Rice LLC.
Motley Rice says that despite being past the Jan. 18 statute of limitation, it can help the city, along with Pinellas County and several neighboring cities that have already filed claims, to make a strong case against BP, Halliburton and Transocean, companies it believes responsible for lost income.
The firm says in its contract that it would still represent Dunedin, but would not be accountable for reduced or denied recovery amounts due to filing past deadline.
The firm would charge the city between 15 and 33 percent of the recovery money, depending on the amount actually awarded, and if no recoveries are made, the city would owe nothing, the preliminary contract says.
Dunedin officials will discuss the option during Thursday's public hearing at City Hall.
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The law firm says that analysis from other claims point to a decline in tourism and maritime-related businesses. Those declines allegedly resulted in less taxable income for local governments and also an increase in municipal spending to prepare for the oil spill and offset tourism losses.
The firm would hire City Attorney Tom Trask's law firm as a co-counsel to help gather supporting documentation for Dunedin's claim. The city would have to provide a written description and some proof of what damages it suffered and how they were a result of the oil spill, along with a settlement demand.
The city can look at past and present budgets, monthly data for enterprise funds, sales taxes, utility revenue, tourism development taxes, business license fees and fuel taxes, Trask explained in a city memo.
The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig, owned by Transocean and leased to BP, exploded offshore in deep waters outside Houston on April 22, 2010.
The tragedy killed 11 people on board the rig and caused an unknown amount of oil to gush continuously into the Gulf until July 15, 2010.
Gulf coast communities reported severe economic impacts.
Motley Rice attorneys are famous for pioneering asbestos lawsuits, terrorist financiers on behalf of Sept. 11 families, and suits against Big Tobacco, according to Trask's memo.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, passed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, allows people the right to sue parties named responsible after a U.S. Coast Guard investigation.
Deepwater Horizon-related litigation is expected to continue over roughly 20 years, experts say.
The public can attend Thursday's meeting at Dunedin City Hall or watch the meeting live beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dunedin TV on Channel 615 for Bright House customers or Channel 15 for Knology and Verizon customers.