PUNTA GORDA, FL – August 31, 2012 – Farr Law Firm filed objections today in federal court to the BP oil spill Settlement Agreement. The objections point out flaws in the Settlement Agreement that prevent many deserving Gulf Coast businesses and residents from receiving fair compensation for economic losses caused by the oil spill.
In the filing, Attorneys David A. Holmes and George T. Williamson objected to the terms of the zone classification system which they believe is inequitable to businesses and residents of southwest Florida. Under the current Settlement Agreement, barrier islands in Florida from Anclote Key to Lido Key receive “Zone A” classification. Zone A receives preferential treatment in terms of qualifying for compensation as well as total compensation amounts.
But those on barrier islands to the south between Siesta Key and Gasparilla Island in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee Counties are not given this preferential treatment. Instead, they receive the less favorable “Zone C” classification. Businesses and residents in Zone C have stricter documentation requirements and generally receive less compensation than those located in Zone A.
“The current zone classification system is arbitrary and akin to gerrymandering,” said Holmes, the firm’s managing partner. “Why do businesses and individuals on Lido Key fare better under the Settlement Agreement than those on Siesta Key?”
Holmes and Williamson also filed objections to the Settlement Agreement’s requirement that some businesses document where their customers live in order to qualify for compensation. Many restaurants and other point-of-sale businesses have no way of documenting where their customers live and therefore are precluded from participating in the settlement program.
“We don’t believe the parties to the Settlement Agreement intended for these businesses to be shutout, but in practice that is what’s happening.” said Williamson. “We want everyone to get a fair shot at qualifying for compensation, but the Settlement Agreement, as written, does not allow for that.”
The objections will be heard at a fairness hearing in New Orleans federal court on November 8, 2012. If the court agrees the objections are appropriate and determines the Settlement Agreement is unfair, it could withhold final approval of the Agreement until appropriate revisions are made. Such a ruling would pave the way for many more Gulf Coast businesses and individuals to receive compensation under the Agreement.
Over the past two years, Farr Law Firm has represented hundreds of clients in connection with the BP oil spill, including claims against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center, the National Pollution Funds Center, as well as in the litigation proceedings.