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Seafood, Tourism Interests in Gulf File Suit

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 11:22 AM EST
Category: In The Workplace
Tags: Oil Spill, BP, Environmental Disaster, Beasley Allen, Robert Kennedy Jr.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Bon Secour Fisheries Web site

Chris Nelson is with Bon Secour Fisheries Inc., his family’s 114-year old company which is watching the impending disaster from the BP oil spill.

If the mucky oil comes ashore in Mississippi and Alabama, this leading seafood processor and distributor will have to source oysters from other state-certified producers. With a fleet of shrimp trawlers, it grades, packs and freezes shrimp, shucks oysters daily and has regular FDA inspections, writes Food Safety News.

Where else might oysters come from?

Louisiana has oyster areas west of the Mississippi River, so far bypassed by the oil slick. Oyster producing areas east of the Mississippi are closed.

Texas oysters are suffering the effects of an algae bloom and the season is closed. The Mississippi season is over, reports Food Safety News.

Some oyster production comes from Florida and oysters relocated from the polluted Mobile Bay to cleaner waters might yield a supply.

Shrimp waters are in jeopardy. Nelson says this season the supply will be tight.

And ultimately if tourism is impacted, there will be less demand for all fresh seafood from the Gulf region. The last time Bon Secour (French for safe harbor) shut down was when the company took a direct hit from Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The Nelsons have no desire to shut down production again. "We want to hold on to our employees, Chris says. "We are located in a small community. These are our people, people we know."

The Nelsons are represented in a class action lawsuit against BP for damaged by well-known trial attorney Jere Beasley (IB member) of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. in a class action against British Petroleum and several other companies with ties to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Class members include commercial interests and residential property owners that have incurred damages including property damages, personal property damages, loss of profits and earnings, loss of commercial subsistence use of natural resources, increased costs of public services and loss of revenues, says Beasley Allen in a news release.

"We are calling on the Alabama congressional delegation to do everything in their power to speed federal resources to the Gulf coast in order to minimize damage to the environment and the thousands of families that depend on these waters for their livelihood. Our thoughts and prayers are with responders," said Jere Beasley, founding shareholder of Beasley Allen in a news release.

Beasley Allen has experience handling other environmental disaster lawsuits including the Tennessee Valley Authority in the largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.

At least 18 proposed lawsuits are already filed in courthouses from Texas to Florida. Robert Kennedy Jr. has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana commercial shrimpers as president of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

The Los Angeles Times reports that four Waterkeeper groups are active in the region - Louisiana Bayoukeeper in Barataria; Mobile Baykeeper in Alabama; Emerald Coastkeeper in Pensacola, Fla.; and Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper in Baton Rouge, La.

"The Waterkeeper Alliance can answer the following question, "Is burning fuel the right move for the environment, human health and the Gulf economy?" a public relations firm representing the group e-mailed media contacts.

"The fire, explosion and resulting oil spill was caused by the joint negligence and fault of the defendants," the Waterkeeper complaint charged.

It accused BP and other companies of "failing to properly operate the Deepwater Horizon...to properly inspect the Deepwater Horizon to assure that its equipment and personnel were fit...Acting in a careless and negligent manner without due regard for the safety of others. Operating the Deepwater Horizon with untrained and unlicensed personnel...Failure to react to danger signs."

At least eight lawsuits have been filed in Alabama and Florida on behalf of beachfront property owners claiming the spill will damage their rental income.

Plaintiffs who have sued not only BP but Transocean, the world’s largest offshore driller, include the families of the 28 crew members killed or injured in the Deepwater explosion. #


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