Saturday, August 4, 2012

BP Oil Spill Claims: Important Update

Many Gulf Coast and Alabama and Mississippi businesses have not yet submited a claim under the recent BP Oil Spill class action settlement because owners and/or management have misconceptions about the conditions and requirements for making a claim. While some businesses have already had their potential claim analyzed and submitted many businesses have not. A local claims examiner reported that, "so far business loss claims are signifigantly lower than we expected." He also stated that he believes the reason for this is because many business owners in Alabama and Mississippi do not understand just how favorable the terms of the settlement are regarding qualifying. Below is the body of a recent Memorandum to our business clients on this subject.

DATE: August 3, 2012
TO: BF&W Current and Former Business Clients
FROM: Mark Wolfe

I hope this communication finds you and your business doing well. I wanted to take a moment to advise you of recent developments in the BP Oil Spill litigation and business loss claims related thereto. As you may recall, Knox Boteler in our office has been involved in the BP Oil Spill litigation since shortly after the disaster occurred in April 2010. You may have heard there has been a recent class action settlement which includes potential business revenue loss claims and includes any business located in Alabama and Mississippi. What you may not know is that the terms of the settlement are very favorable for business loss claims and, under the new settlement agreement, many of the burdens imposed on claimants via the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) have been removed.

Knox reports that many of his business clients have been reluctant or hesitant to pursue a claim under the new settlement agreement because they do not believe they can “prove” their revenue decline after the oil spill can be directly attributed to the disaster. This is a common misconception and could result in your business missing an opportunity to make a financial recovery from the approximately seven billion dollars allocated by BP for claim payments under the settlement.

Under the new settlement agreement if your business suffered a decline in revenue after the oil spill it may qualify for a financial recovery. Under the terms of the settlement, if a business meets the revenue stream testing requirement, commonly called the “down and up” test, then the calculated loss is automatically presumed to have been from the oil spill. Simply put if a business qualifies under the new testing requirements there is no longer a burden to prove the loss was directly caused by the oil spill. These testing requirements are very favorable for area businesses and the closer your business is located to the Gulf Coast or to a roadway deemed a “critical corridor” the more favorable the testing requirements are. However, under the terms of the agreement, any business located in Alabama and Mississippi may qualify for compensation if the testing protocol is met.

Knox also reports that he has been able to qualify several area businesses for claims that have been previously told by accountants and/or other attorneys they “do not qualify” or that may have only received a partial payment under the old GCCF claim process. I believe this is specifically because of his long standing involvement in this matter and his detailed knowledge of the 1000+ page settlement agreement. This knowledge has allowed him to provide solid legal advice for our business clients regarding their various legal options under the current settlement agreement.  

There are some critical time deadlines approaching in October. The passage of these deadlines will not prohibit a claim in the future (claims can be presented until April 2014) but will close your opportunity to opt-out of the settlement agreement. There is no charge for analysis of the potential claim and claims will be processed and presented on a reduced contingency fee of 20-25% of the funds recovered. [Larger claims may qualify for further fee reductions.]

For further questions on having your business revenue loss claim analyzed, please e-mail Knox Boteler or call 251 433-7766 or 1 866 975-7766. Also, for more information on BP Oil Spill Settlement Claims visit the Oil Spill Resource Center on our web site.

DISCLAIMER: To the extent this informational post may be considered an attorney advertisement, the Alabama State Bar Regulations require the following disclaimer: No representation is made that the quality of legal service to be performed is greater than the legal services performed by other lawyers. If you currently have an attorney assisting you on the subject matter of this advertisement then you are encouraged to continue using said attorney. However, if you are not satisfied with the service and advice of your current attorney, you are entitled to seek a second opinion from another attorney.

The Mississippi Supreme Court advises that a decision on legal services is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. Free Background information is available upon request to a Mississippi attorney. The listing of any area of practice by a Mississippi attorney does not indicate any certification of expertise therein. See Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2(d), Rule 7.4(a), Rule 7.6(a) (1997).