Southwest Florida Still Realizing Affects of Oil Spill

Written by George T. Williamson |


George Williamson Attorney | Farr Law | Southwest Florida

Attorney George Williamson.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana.  At the time of explosion, the rig was owned by British Petroleum (B.P.) who had leased the rig’s operations to Transocean.  In the following months, an estimated 1,000 barrels of oil per day flowed into the Gulf of Mexico eventually arriving on Florida panhandle beaches.  Scientists theorized that oil from the spill would move with southerly Gulf currents and eventually wash up on South Florida beaches.  This theory soon became a national perception.  As early as June 2010, a study done by (the State of Florida’s tourism marketing arm) found in a survey of 1,286 active travelers that 10 percent were less likely to visit Florida due to the effects of the oil spill.  By July 2010, a study by Conde Nast Traveler Research Center indicated -22%, -22%, -21% of travelers were less likely to visit beaches in Sarasota, Naples, and St. Petersburg, respectively.  Southwest Florida is heavily dependent on the area’s pristine beaches and waters to bring tourism and seasonal visitors to the area.  Therefore, any decline in tourism necessarily affects individuals and businesses whose income relies on tourism. Locally, data obtained from Charlotte County shows a sharp decline in tourism immediately following the explosion and continuing into the summer months.Therefore, any individual or business that lost profits as a result of a decline in tourism or seasonal visitors may have a claim against BP. A $20 billion claim fund has been set up by BP with the goal of paying out $5 billion in claims before December 31, 2010 and $5 billion a year thereafter.  Claimants who follow the requisite protocol and provide proper documentation stand a good chance of recovering.  Local statistics, released November 27, 2010, support this:

  • Sarasota County: 94 claims paid representing $2.17 mil
  • Charlotte County: 57 claims paid representing $1.43 mil
  • Lee County: 509 claims paid representing $6.81 mil
  • Collier County: 1,534 claims paid representing $15.23 mil

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