Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawyers tell gulf-dependent businesses: BP will fight you

CLEARWATER — Monique Dever is scared. Her business, seafood from the gulf, is in great peril.

As the office manager for Ward's Seafood off Belleair Road, she has seen the almost daily e-mail alerts warning of new restrictions on fishing due to BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and she has heard from concerned customers.

So when she heard a group of high-powered lawyers were holding a seminar on how to fight back, she had to go.

In the Hyatt Regency on Clearwater Beach on Thursday evening, the lawyers, Dever said, did not disappoint.

They came from firms that have gotten payouts in the hundreds of millions from big corporations.

Stuart Smith was there. His firm in New Orleans won a $1.06 billion verdict against Exxon Mobil in 2002 over contaminated land.

So was Bob McKee, whose Fort Lauderdale firm was among those to take on DuPont over its tainted fungicide Benlate, winning hundreds of millions in judgments for farms and shrimp fishermen.

These attorneys, and representatives from several other firms, have formed a coalition and launched a website, www.gulfoil disasterrecovery.com, to begin a process that may last a decade or more: suing the pants off of BP, Halliburton and every other firm responsible for damaging the livelihoods of the thousands affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

McKee, who said Clearwater was the seventh stop on the coalition's tour of cities around the gulf, began with a line he said many people affected by the oil cling to.

"They'll pay you if you have a legitimate claim."

He said if past experience is any indication, the line is nothing but PR. He offered a different interpretation.

"If you can kick their tail at trial, they'll pay you. That's what I think it means," he said.

At points, there was applause from the three dozen who attended.

The lawyers brought in a scientist, William Sawyer, to speak about the untold and unknown dangers of toxins that have been released.

They emphasized that even if a beach is slathered in oil, unless that oil can be chemically matched to samples taken from the Deepwater Horizon spill site, BP's lawyers would rip the owner's case to shreds.

They touted internal memos they claim came from BP, revealing that corners were cut in the process of drilling the exploratory well that went so wrong.

Document everything, they said. Dated photos. Tax returns. Sales receipts. That is key.

And last: In order to get more than the "meager pittances" BP is doling out now, and to get to the larger settlements for perhaps years of lost revenue, they needed good representation.

They did not directly make a sales pitch for themselves, but encouraged those with possible damage to lawyer up — otherwise, they suggested, it will be hard.

"The victim has the burden of proof. BP knows that. How many of you have a deep sea laboratory ship?" McKee said, emphasizing that at trial, having good scientists on retainer will make a big difference.

And of course, the benefit for those damaged: "You're allowed to be made whole again. Every American has that right."

Explaining the lawyers' interest, Smith said: "We're looking for people who have sustained significant economic harm," which means contingency fees of up to 50 percent.

Speaking of the potential for the issue to be fought over for years, one local lawyer in attendance quipped, "I'm encouraging my 2-year-old grandson to go to law school."

Lawyers tell gulf-dependent businesses: BP will fight you 06/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 11, 2010 8:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  2. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to tampabay.com/sports.
  3. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter

    News

    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]
  4. FSU-Tulane coming to Amalie Arena in December

    Blogs

    Florida State basketball is coming to Tampa.

  5. Taylor Swift congratulates Russell Westbrook on MVP Award

    Blogs