DEEPWATER HORIZON DISASTER

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi demands nearly $6 billion from BP for 2010 Gulf oil disaster

 

News Service of Florida

Attorney General Pam Bondi said Florida is seeking $5.48 billion for lost revenue - past and future - from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Bondi, who has filed a federal lawsuit against BP Exploration & Production Inc., BP America Production Co., and Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., made a settlement offer for the same amount three months ago but she said on Tuesday that the proposal has been ignored.

The lawsuit, filed Saturday in the Northern District of Florida, in Panama City, on the three year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, seeks to recoup actual and potential lost revenue from the spill that impacted: lost sales and use taxes; corporate taxes; documentary stamp taxes; cigarette surcharges; cigarette excise taxes; beer, wine, and liquor taxes; fuel taxes; rental car surcharges; and utility taxes.

A majority of the state's claim is for expected economic losses.

"We all know there is a large amount of oil still on the floor of the Gulf and they are going to be held accountable because we do not know what could be happening in the future," Bondi said.

A spokesman for BP declined to comment on the suit or Bondi's settlement offer.

Bondi declined to chime in on an amendment to an economic-development bill (SB 1024) that was backed by the state Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. The proposal would divert 75 percent of any money recovered by the lawsuit into a non-profit organization in the Panhandle.

"It's the lawmakers job to decide how to distribute those funds," Bondi said. "I'm focused now solely on holding BP accountable and maximizing recovery that we receive for our state."

The non-profit proposal, backed by Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, would award the money over a 30 year period to projects and programs in counties most impacted by the spill: Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Wakulla.

"That endowment will be able to provide for educational, environmental and economic development needs, not for the next couple of years but for generations," Gaetz said.

The state has retained four firms to serve as its outside counsel in the lawsuit – Grayton Beach-based Nix Patterson & Roach, LLP; Panama City-based Harrison, Rivard, Duncan & Buzzett; Panama City-based Harrison Sale McCloy. Nicks Patterson; and Fowler White Boggs P.A. which has offices in Tampa, Fort Myers, Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale.

The counsel team could earn up to 2.5 percent of the gross amount of money recovered. Bondi said the fees would be capped at $50 million.

The lawsuit is separate from other on-going litigation, individual and multi-district, against BP.

Mississippi filed its own lawsuit on Friday against BP, Halliburton and Transocean Ltd.

Florida may also file suit against Transocean Ltd., the contractor for the ill-fated oil rig, Bondi said.

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