|April 15, 2011
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
|en Español||Print Version||Tweet|
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi has made responding to the oil spill a priority of her administration. This response includes facilitating the individual and business claims process, assisting in the development of the state's claims, working with local governments, as needed, and pursuing, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Protection, environmental claims on behalf of the State of Florida. As Florida’s chief legal officer, the Attorney General is responsible for, among other things, bringing lawsuits on behalf of the state and offering legal advice to other governmental agencies.
I. The Oil Pollution Act
With regard to the oil spill, the most important statute is the federal Oil Pollution Act (OPA). OPA allows those harmed by the oil spill – state government, local governments, businesses, and individuals – to recover economic losses caused by the oil spill. To promote compensation without resorting to litigation, OPA requires potential claimants to first present their damages claim to the responsible party before filing a lawsuit.
II. The Attorney General Office’s Role with Respect to Various Claims under OPA
a. The State Claim under OPA
In anticipation of presenting an OPA claim to BP on behalf of the State of Florida, the Attorney General’s Office has coordinated a multi-agency effort to identify and quantify the state’s damages as a result of the oil spill. Such damages could include lost tax revenues and clean-up costs. Other agencies involved in this effort include, among others, the Office of the Governor, the Legislature, and the Department of Revenue. Once the necessary data and supporting information have been assembled, the state’s claim will be presented to BP for payment.
b. Individual and Business Claims
In conjunction with the Obama administration, BP appointed Mr. Ken Feinberg as the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) to resolve individual and business claims under OPA. The GCCF and Mr. Feinberg are responsible for the processing of individual and business claims for economic loss from the oil spill. The Attorney General has kept the pressure on Mr. Feinberg to make the claims process faster, more efficient, and more transparent for claimants. Additionally, our office has contacted the GCCF on numerous occasions to request expedited review of claims for individuals and businesses facing severe hardship.
The Attorney General’s role in this process has been to aggressively communicate with Mr. Feinberg to bring more transparency and fairness to the claims process for individuals and businesses. To date, improvements have occurred, but the Attorney General continues to actively monitor the process and engage in discussions to further those goals.
c. Local Government Claims
The Attorney General’s Office has also worked for many months with the Florida Association of Counties, the Florida League of Cities, individual counties, and certain interested legislators and local officials, providing them with information regarding the OPA and how the claims process was contemplated to work.
III. Multi-District Litigation
Separate from the OPA claims process, there is also pending “multi-district” litigation in federal court in New Orleans, La. That litigation involves hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed by a wide array of parties against BP, Transocean (the owner of the oil rig) and others. In one aspect of the litigation, Transocean has sought to limit its liability to the scrap value of the oil rig – approximately $27 million. The judge overseeing the litigation has imposed a deadline of April 20, 2011, for any interested party to assert certain claims against Transocean.
The deadline does not apply to any litigation that could be brought against BP or other defendants. The Attorney General’s Office is evaluating whether it is in the state’s interest to file a lawsuit against Transocean at this time.
For more information, please visit http://myfloridalegal.com/deepwaterhorizon.