The impact of the April 20th Deepwater Horizon explosion continues to reverberate as its resulting oil spill expands across the Southern Gulf. Initial lawsuits were soon filed on behalf of BP and Transocean workers killed or maimed in the explosion. In early May, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Birmingham on behalf of property owners, including a Shelby, Alabama man and a Jefferson County company whose properties in Gulf Shores lie directly in the path of the oncoming slick.
As reported in the May 5th edition of the Birmingham News, the lawsuit brought by property owners accuse BP et al of negligence in poorly assessing and containing the damage of the ensuing spill. Moreover, BP is also accused of intentionally downplaying the anticipated effects of the spill in its media statements. The lawsuit alleges that BP’s actions following the spill are factors in the subsequent decline of tourism and property values in the affected regions.
The Gulf Coast economy has long been dependent on tourism as well as regional industries such as fishing and crab and oyster harvesting. A spokesperson for the legal firm who has filed the lawsuit stated that rental cancellations have begun in the wake of the disaster. Other class action lawsuits allege that the physical damage to local ecosystems threatens the livelihoods of commercial fishermen. Property management companies, as well as the tourist industry, are alleged to have already suffered economically from the BP oil slick.
With world-famous shore front properties and mild, pleasant weather year-round, the oil spill could impact local industry not just in the typically busy summer season, but for years to come. Commercial fishing is attempting to salvage what it can of the season’s catch before the slick reaches land. Hotel and resort owners note with dismay media reporting of the expanding spill, while soothing reservation holders with reminders that the slick has not yet reached the coast. Local tourism officials do wonder aloud whether anyone will want to travel to the region’s beaches should they be encased in hazardous sludge.
Indeed, the encroaching oil represents a health risk to tourist and resident alike. Many recall that the volunteers who participated in the cleanup after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill suffered for years afterward a variety of healthy ailments directly related to the cleanup. Those volunteering in the BP cleanup are advised to take precautions in dealing with the potentially toxic oil. Skin, respiratory, and other maladies may result from direct contact with oil.
At present, thousands of lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs in neighboring states, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Marinas, restaurants, and boat dealerships have also filed individual lawsuits against BP Products North America Inc., Transocean Ltd., and other subsidiary companies and contractors.
The Birmingham lawsuit has been proposed as a class-action suit in order to protect the rights of the numerous individual plaintiffs this oil slick is expected to affect adversely.
If you own or operate property or a business that has been affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, contact Newsome Law Firm and fill out a case evaluation form today. Our team of attorneys has experience specific to complications associated with environmental disasters. Not only can they give you the legal guidance you need, they can help you get the compensation you deserve.