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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa, Hillsborough County preparing to sue BP over oil-spill claims



Days before the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, attorneys for Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa are moving to file lawsuits against oil giant BP over tens of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues.

Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to file suit over the county’s claim that it suffered nearly $43 million in losses — from hotel, gas, sales and other tax and fee receipts — as a result of the spill.

Commissioners previously had voted to pursue a claim against the company for the losses. The county has entered the claims process, but commissioners’ original vote didn’t explicitly authorize a lawsuit. They approved pursuing the lawsuit Wednesday without discussion.

The statute of limitations for filing a claim through the courts expires Monday, officials say. The county has hired the Fowler White Boggs law firm to pursue its claim. The firm is working under a contract that would pay it 20 percent of what it recovers, plus legal expenses, if it secures any money for the county. It will not be paid otherwise.

Meanwhile, Tampa’s claim for more than $50 million to cover damages to business and tourism has not been resolved, City Attorney James Shimberg Jr. said Wednesday.

Consequently, Shimberg said, the city’s special counsel on the oil spill, Steven Yerrid, is finalizing a complaint against BP expected to be filed in federal court by the end of the week.

Full story here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 6:31pm]


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