A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be heard in Key West.
More than 300 people and businesses are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against British Petroleum. The plaintiffs are seeking a cut of the $20 billion the oil company set aside to cover damage claims related to the spill.
The 328 plaintiffs in the 69-page complaint filed on Feb. 25 include many Monroe County companies, including, but not limited to: Banner Tire Key West, the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce, Happily Ever After Key West, Key West Extreme Adventures, Turtle Kraals, Upper Keys Artificial Reef Foundation, Suite Dreams Inn Key West, the Southernmost Hotel companies, the Spottswood Cos. and a host of Duval Street businesses listed only by their addresses.
Other plaintiffs are located throughout the Gulf Coast.
The lawsuit asks that a jury decide how much of the $20 billion should go to them for lost business and revenue due to the oil spill.
Plaintiffs are represented by the environmental firm of Krupnick Campbell of Fort Lauderdale. Key West attorney David Paul Horan said he has joined forces with the firm for the lawsuit.
The case is separate from the massive litigation filed in federal court in New Orleans, said Horan, who explained the New Orleans litigation seeks to determine specifically who is liable in the oil spill, and to portion the liability among multiple defendants associated with the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
The Key West lawsuit is about cash, not who is liable, Horan said. Plaintiffs are alleging that BP violated the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which states in part that companies must have detailed spill prevention and cleanup plans in place before they drill.
"Our concern is not who is liable," Horan said. "We're filing for damages on that $20 billion that was set aside by BP."
The lawsuit names BP Exploration & Production Inc. and Airborne Support International -- a contractor allegedly hired by BP to spray chemical oil dispersants -- as defendants.
The firm decided to file in Key West for reasons of expediency, Horan said.
"Things move faster down here than they do in Fort Lauderdale or Miami," he said. "There's simply less cases filed here."
Even so, he said the case is expected to take months, if not years, to resolve.