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BP Oil-Spill Settlement Ready for Claims
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BP Oil-Spill Settlement Ready for Claims

Southwest Floridians who believe their incomes and businesses suffered as a result of 2010's BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico can still be compensated for their losses by the global oil company.

And there is no cap on the amount of money the oil company has to pay to claimants under the class-action settlement between BP and the federal government.

Those facts were at the heart of a 90-minute seminar on the settlement's key provisions and how the claim-filing process works. The seminar was held on Tuesday at Capt. Brien's Seafood and Raw Bar on Marco Island.

"Anyone who has a viable claim that meets the criteria will get paid," said attorney Frank Aloia Jr. of the Fort Myers law firm Aloia Roland Lubell & Morgan. "No matter what the amount is, you're not taking money from anyone else."

About 60 local business owners and other residents turned out to hear the insights provided by Aloia and attorneys from Pensacola-based Levin-Papantonio-Thomas-Mitchell-Rafferty & Proctor, a firm also working on the claims.

Aloia said Levin-Papantonio-Thomas-Mitchell-Rafferty & Proctor is one of the largest "mass tort" (multiple claims from one event) law firms in the country and that the BP settlement with the U.S. government - announced in March - likely will result in more than one million claims filed.

Attorneys from both firms explained the primary criteria for qualifying for compensation and told the audience that they should file a claim even if they're not certain it will be approved.

Having legal assistance with navigating a complicated claims process that requires documentation of financial losses is vital and attorneys are handling the cases on contingency, the lawyers said.

Aloia said after the seminar that the law firms are trying to get the word out about the settlement to as many people as possible.

"It is a process that is working, that is available and will pay claims," said Mark Proctor of Levin-Papantonio-Thomas-Mitchell-Rafferty & Proctor.

Mike Held, who owns and operates Keep In Touch Concepts, a card, gift and U.S. Postal Service unit in the Shops of Marco, said he found the seminar to be interesting.

"They gave out some good information there," said Held. "But I think I left with just as many questions as answers."

Held said he is going to review the information packet Aloia is sending before deciding whether to proceed with a claim and with what law firm, if any, he'll use to advise him.

Karen Coates, who co-owns Gulf Coast Jewelers with her husband, Chuck, said she went through the BP oil spill claims-filing process previously and spent months gathering the required documents.

Coates said she also gleaned useful information from the seminar.

"The attorneys were quite informative," said Coates. "I appreciate the time and effort of the presentation and the quality service at Capt. Brien's Seafood. The graphics were presented well and I would recommend hiring a (law) firm."

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