Thursday, May 24, 2012

BP Oil Spill Settlement: Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) Claims

The recently announced class action settlement in the BP Oil Spill litigation includes claims for owners of vessels registered with the Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program. The VOO program was initiated by BP after the oil spill and was intended to allow local vessel owners an opportunity to participate in the oil spill clean up operations. The registered vessels were required to be on "stand-by" and the owners had to complete extensive training in advance of receiving a VOO contract. However, many vessels that were registered with the program were either never called into service or used sparingly. Also, some vessels suffered damages in the clean-up operation. In the lawsuit VOO owners claimed that their contract with BP called for payment whether the vessel was put into operation or not and required payment for a specified "usage" period. They also claimed that BP had agreed to compensate vessel owners for any damges to the vessels incurred during the clean-up operations.

Under the proposed settlement, all vessel owners who executed VOO Master Vessel Charter Agreements and completed the initial VOO training program are entitled to compensation under the terms of the BP Settlement Agreement. The fact a vessel owner has previously executed a release of liability against BP or other responsible parties for other claims does not matter. Compensation is determined based on whether the vessel was placed “on-hire” and participated in the program or "on-standby". All VOO vessel owners will get a specified standard charter rate for a set number of days.

If you are a vessel owner and you signed up for the VOO program, you may have a claim for damages under the new class action settlement. For more information, call Knox Boteler at Boteler, Finley & Wolfe, 251 433-7766 or toll free at 1 866 975-7766 or e-mail Knox at

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

BP Oil Spill Claim Information

The Boteler, Finley & Wolfe web site has been updated to include important information and resources for business owners in Mobile and Baldwin County and Alabama coastal property owners regarding BP oil spill claims. On May 2nd  the proposed class action settlement pending in the Federal District Court in New Orleans was approved. This class settlement will include an estimated pay-out by BP of $7.8 billion dollars to parties impacted by the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Every business located south of Interstate-10 in Baldwin and Mobile counties is in zone A, B or C of the economic loss geographic area. (Some businesses north of I-10 and east of I-65 are in Zone C) Businesses in those three zones will receive a favorable testing procedure to determine if a claim can be made under the settlement agreement. If the revenue loss testing protocol is met, then there is a presumption that any revenue decline after the oil spill was caused by the disaster.

Knox Boteler of BF&W has been actively involved in the litigation of claims since shortly after the BP oil spill and is now working with area business owners to determine if their business meets the favorable testing protocol under the settlement and evaluating the loss claim value. Knox has developed an integrated spread sheet program to help in the evaluation process. He can work with a business' own accountant or accounting firm to help finalize the necessary financial documents and reports needed for claim submission or we have access to accountants familiar with this process who can help. 

Business loss claims under the class action settlement are being handled on a contingency fee of 15% with a fee reduction available depending on the amount of the claim. A portion of accounting fees related to claim preparation and presentation are recoverable. For more information about the evaluation process for a business revenue loss claim, please contact Knox at knox@bfw-lawyers .