According to a Sept. 21 letter from a BP attorney to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), boat operators who participated in BP’s Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program can pursue claims for damage to their boats even if they already settled claims with the GCCF.
However, the letter also stated that BP was reserving the right to deduct wages that boat operators earned during the VOO program from future settlements. Due to the complex maritime laws and Oil Pollution Act in play in VOO-related claims, it’s advisable to consult with the Mobile, Alabama, attorneys at Long & Long if you’re a boat owner whose vessel incurred damage while participating in the VOO program.
In last month’s letter, BP also continued to allege that the GCCF “has overcompensated claimants who participated in the VOO program.” Although some boat operators recovered money through the GCCF, the source of compensation for VOO participants has been a controversial issue.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 indicates that workers who are harmed by an oil spill have an obligation to attempt to reduce their economic stress by finding other work. The flip side of that is that otherwise out-of-work fisherman who helped BP clean up through the VOO program then had those wages deducted from future claims would have essentially been working for free.
So far, thousands of boat operators have filed complaints saying they have not been paid in full by BP for their VOO participation. Of those, a U.S. District Court has chosen six for a pilot mediation program.
If you participated in BP’s Vessels of Opportunity program and were not adequately compensated, please contact the oil spill attorneys at Long & Long for your free case evaluation.