A Destin-area woman filed suit in USDC Middle District Court on Monday against BP, Haliburton and Transocean (among others), alleging that the oil spill will cost her thousands of dollars in lost vacation-rental income. Vickie Nobles’ suit is class-action and comes “on behalf of all others similarly situated” — presumably, other beachfront property owners like herself.
Among the nine claims for relief are gross negligence, trespass, products liability and liability for abnormally dangerous activity. The suit also contends that the oil spill is a violation of Florida’s Pollutant Discharge Prevention and Control Act, which doesn’t require that someone filing suit prove that the offending party was negligent, so long as they prove pollution did occur.
Cameron International Corporation, another defendant in the case, manufactured Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer, the failure of which to operate correctly has contributed to the continual oil discharge.
In addition to the suit’s many claims for negligence, Nobles and her attorneys allege that BP hasn’t done enough to halt the offending oil from reaching Florida’s shoreline. The complaint states that the booms being put into place by BP to block the oil are simply ineffective: “Experts report that anything higher than a three-foot wave will clear the boom, lifting the oil slick over the barriers with it. At times in the past month, the Gulf has experienced seven- to ten-foot swells, diminishing the usefulness of the booms.”
Also in the complaint are charges that BP purposely misled the public into believing that far fewer barrels were leaking per day (first estimates were around 1,000) than the actual 70,000.
The suit also calls into question BP’s “history of cutting corners on safety to reduce operating costs,” citing a 2005 explosion at the company’s Texas refinery that killed 15 people and injured hundreds and a 2006 incident in which they had to shut down an Alaskan oil field after oil began leaking from a corroded pipeline.
The suit further alleges that BP is operating its Atlantis rig (a deepwater vessel similar to the Deepwater Horizon) negligently, “with incomplete and inaccurate engineering documents, which one official warned could lead to ‘catastrophic operator error’” and a disaster similar to the one ongoing in the gulf.
According to Nobles’ suit, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has estimated that occupancy rates are already down 30 percent from this time last year, a number that is sure to go up should the oil begin to coat Florida’s shoreline.
Read or download a copy of the lawsuit:
[Pic via flickr.com/photos/gsfc]