Florida has most BP oil spill damage claims
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Florida has most BP oil spill damage claims

As the fourth anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster rolls around on April 20, Florida businesses and residents have filed more damage claims than any other state.

The oil rig explosion killed 11 workers and sent more than 200 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida claims total 82,818, or 30 percent of the claims filed under the oil spill class-action settlement, according to a March 31 report from Patrick Juneau, the court-appointed claims administrator. Nearly 260,000 claims have been filed.

Altogether, coastal real property damage claims are the most frequent, but claims for business economic loss have resulted in the greatest amount of money paid out by BP so far. Florida business claims total more than 5,600, and BP payment for the claims is roughly $900 million.

The company has repeatedly gone to court and contested the settlement it approved in 2012, contending it is paying for false damage claims that should not have been approved under the agreement. Judges have twice denied BP's attempts to alter the terms of the settlement.

Claim payments, however, have been put on hold by an injunction while an appellate court considers a request by BP for a rehearing on the arguments it lost.

"We don't know if the request will be granted," said Tampa lawyer Tom Young, whose practice concentrates on settlement claims. "It's a toss up."

It could be several months before a rehearing decision is made. Even if a rehearing is denied and the injunction lifted, it would take time for the claims payment process to ramp up again, he said, so when claims payments would resume is uncertain.

Article by: Jane Meinhardt, Staff Writer - Tampa Bay Business Journal

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