As I type this, Deepwater Horizon, a British Petroleum [BP] well located just southwest of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, is spewing nearly 250,000 gallons of oil per day into the surrounding ocean. This is the equivalent to 25 tanker truck loads of oil directly into the ocean. Even worse, this blooming oil spill has made it’s way to the Louisiana coastline and now threatens to destroy fragile coastal wetlands as well as kill or maim a broad range of sea animal and bird populations.
Putting aside the obvious reasons of why Michigan/Mid-West Injury Board readers ought to be concerned about this disaster, many folks outside of Louisana, Texas and the Florida panhandle have property interests along this endangered shoreline. Their condos, houses and vacation homes could be seriously damaged by the oil as it washes ashore and destroys the use and beauty of this shoreline.
A class action has just been filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The causes of action pled against BP, Transocean Offshore Drilling, Halliburton Energy Services, and Cameron International Corporation include negligence and violations of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act which went into effect following the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Under Federal Law, all of the owners or other parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon well are liable for the cleanup costs and damages caused by the spill.
Potential parties would include, but aren’t limited to:
1. Companies or individuals involved in the commercial fishing, oyster and shrimping industry;
2. Companies and individuals involved in the seafood processing/packaging industry;
3. Dock and Marina owners/operators;
4. Commercial and private boat owners;
5. Waterfront property owners, restaurants and businesses, and
6. City, County and State Governments.
The damages to these potential groups could include real or personal property damages, loss of profits and earning capacity, loss of subsistence use of natural resources, increased costs of public services and loss of government revenue.
Property damage claims by land or building owners can be made by individuals who own or lease the property in question. The cost of cleanup is an element of damages that you can recover. Damages and clean up costs to boats, docks and moorings would be included in this type of damage. This damage claim is especially relevant to Northern Michigan as many snowbirds own or lease property along the affected shoreline and would be eligible claimants in the above referenced class action.
Lost profits or earning capacity due to the destruction and/or damage to the property or natural resources is also recoverable. Anyone with lost profits or an impaired ability to earn income may make such a claim. You do not have to own the damaged property or resources to submit a claim under this category.
Also, claims may be filed by individuals who depend on natural resources for subsistence are injured, destroyed or damaged by an oil spill accident. Further, you do not have to own or manage the natural resource to submit a claim under this category.
There is no question that these oil spills are catastrophic environmental disasters. The long and short term side effects are staggering – dead or dying wildlife, tarred beaches, damaged fishing grounds, and compromised water supplies. Now that the oil spill has reached the shoreline in Louisiana, it coats the beach sand, gravel, rocks and boulders as well as the vegetation and destroys the habitat of both wildlife and humans. Even today, the ecosystem surrounding the Exxon Valdez spill still feels the effects of that contamination.
If you have a potential claim arising out of this oil spill, it is imperative that you contact counsel immediately.
A rare News Conference involving the US Coast Guard:
Mr. Smith has practiced as a trial attorney since graduating Notre Dame Law School in 1992. He has litigated cases across the country including cases from Ventura County, California to Middlesex County, New Jersey. He practices in both State and Federal courts.