Make us your home page

Area hotels wonder if claims from BP oil spill will be paid

Top BP executives stepped out of a White House meeting last month promising to pay all legitimate claims for damages caused by oil gushing from its well in the gulf.

The pledge sounds simple enough. But some Pinellas beach businesses say uncertainty about ground rules for dispersing the $20 billion fund has them worried they may not be fully compensated for their losses.

One major concern is the incoming boss of the Gulf Coast Claims Fund. Kenneth Feinberg won acclaim overseeing the U.S. government's compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He will take over operations of BP's Gulf Coast Claims Center next month.

The Washington, D.C., attorney and law professor drew fire over testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Small Business last month. Feinberg said he would use Florida law as one standard to determine eligibility.

Asked whether the BP money could pay for claims in areas where no oil washed up on beaches, he called it a "tough'' issue.

"Clearly under Florida law … if there's no physical damage to the beaches and it's a public perception, I venture to say that is not compensable,'' Feinberg said. He added, "that's in this area where some discretion's going to have to be exercised.''

Plenty of other tough calls await, including the compensation of real estate brokers who lose commissions and rentals. Keith Overton, chief operating officer of the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach, asked about compensating suppliers, ranging from food wholesalers to pest control companies, for hotels who were scaling back orders.

Floridians and businesses in the state have filed 32,400 claims, and BP has paid $43.8 million so far, the company says. About 80 percent of the money went toward claims in 10 Panhandle counties. The biggest chunk — 42 percent — covered lost wages.

In Tampa Bay, BP paid more than $2 million. Checks totaling $852,000 went to addresses in Pinellas, $425,000 in Hillsborough, $547,000 in Pasco and $224,000 in Hernando. Claim numbers for the area were not available Friday, the company said.

In Madeira Beach, the Friendly Fisherman Restaurant's claim is about to enter the system, said chief financial officer Patty Hubbard. The paperwork includes monthly profit and loss statements for 2008 and 2009 that BP requested.

She's also throwing in financial data for 2007, the last really good year for the restaurant in tourist-dependent John's Pass Village. The recession spoiled 2008 and 2009, she said, while cold weather cut into 2010 tourist numbers until mid March.

BP will use previous years numbers to determine what an average year should look like. Adjusters then will compare those numbers to how well the business has performed since the Horizon Deepwater rig blew in April.

Hubbard said business from March into April was terrific as tourists steamed back to the beaches. Then came the big spill. She said June revenues were off 20 percent from a year earlier. "What we were robbed of was our recovery,'' she says.

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Area hotels wonder if claims from BP oil spill will be paid 07/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 23, 2010 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.