When Deepwater Horizon exploded last April and subsequently spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, people up and down the coast whose lives were put on hold decided to pitch in to help out. Many boat owners offered their vessels in whatever capacity they could. Unfortunately, they entered into an agreement with BP called Vessels of Opportunity, and may have found that BP has little inclination to pay them what they are due. Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) was created by BP so they could get as many boats as possible to do things like clean up oil, rescue wildlife in distress and shuttle equipment around. All participants were trained. By July 7, there were roughly 3,000 vessels involved in the program. However, all participants had to sign a contract called the “Master Vessel Charter Agreement.” This was supposed to bring employment and income to those who lost their jobs because of the spill. The boat owners generally expected to make anywhere between $1,200 and $3,000 a day. The agreement required the following from boat owners if they were going to get involved in the VOO:
- They had to be available to BP 24 hours a day
- Vessels were not to be used for any purpose other than in the services directed by BP during the term of the charter
- Vessels were subject to termination of the contract through an official notice called an “Off-Hire Dispatch Notification”
Basically, boat owners and crews were at the whim of BP during this agreement. They could not do anything else that might have allowed them to make income using their boats. Still, these men and women operated under the assumption that they were going to be paid very well for their services. So what does BP, one of the world’s richest corporations, do? They refuse to pay many of the people involved in the program. This is a company that recently reported an increase in their cash reserves from last year’s $8 billion to this year’s $10 billion. Apparently, the tragedy surrounding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which killed 11 people, destroyed countless lives and wreaked havoc on the environment, is doing quite well for itself. The attorneys at Long & Long believe this is wrong. We are currently taking cases of those who entered into the VOO who have been refused payment. If you are in the Mobile, Alabama area, and were not paid for your participation in the VOO, please contact the experienced attorneys at Long & Long today.