Friday, June 22, 2018
Business

State to sue BP over oil spill, seek lost revenue

TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi said she will file a lawsuit Saturday against BP and Halliburton that seeks economic damages as a result of the oil rig explosion that sullied the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 workers three years ago.

The state's announcement came the same day the state of Mississippi and the city of Tampa announced separate legal actions against BP and its partners.

"The state of Florida suffered considerable economic losses as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and BP and Halliburton must be held accountable," Bondi said in a news release.

The state did not say how much money in damages it is seeking and would not release a draft or copy of its lawsuit, citing public record exemptions, said Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Meale.

Bondi will file the suit under the Oil Pollution Act, just barely within the law's three-year statute of limitation, in U.S. district court in Panama City.

State officials say the lawsuit will argue that Florida is owed lost revenues from various sources as a result of the oil spill, including sales taxes, corporate taxes, documentary stamp taxes and taxes on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Florida also wants punitive damages under maritime and Florida common law "due to the egregious nature of the misconduct that led to this environmental and economic disaster."

This lawsuit does not address damages to the state's environment, which continue to be studied, she said.

When the lawsuits are formally filed, Florida and Mississippi will join other Gulf states in legal action against the oil giant and its partners. Louisiana and Alabama are involved in a massive federal trial in New Orleans that will sort out the liability of Transocean, the operator of the oil rig, and its partners.

Tampa lawyer Steve Yerrid, who is representing Tampa in its lawsuit and once served as Gov. Charlie Crist's special counsel on the spill, had criticized Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott for not previously joining the Transocean litigation. The city of Tampa filed suit Friday after BP rejected its claim of nearly $60 million in lost revenues.

In 2011, Bondi and Scott said they were not joining the Transocean lawsuit because they wanted to avoid costly litigation and challenge BP directly.

"The new lawsuit our state will file against BP gives us the ability to continue to fight to hold BP accountable for the economic losses both our state and communities sustained when beaches were closed and many of our businesses lost income as a result of the spill," Scott said in a statement.

While working for Crist, Yerrid helped draft a proposed settlement that would have established a fund for Florida to draw from as it discovered damages from the spill. It would have been similar to the $20 billion fund the company created to respond to business and personal claims, he said.

But when Scott took office, Yerrid said, talks with BP fizzled.

"Ultimately, I hope the state of Florida succeeds, but it is really unfortunate that so much time has been allowed to pass without any resolution," he said.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the company had no comment.

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.

Comments
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Published: 06/22/18
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Published: 06/22/18
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18