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Hillsborough County to sue BP over oil spill

Hillsborough County to sue BP over oil spill

TAMPA, Fla. (AP/970WFLA) - Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to sue oil-giant BP over lost tax revenues the county claims it suffered due to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The county claims it suffered nearly $43 million in losses - from hotel, gas, sales and other tax and fee receipts - as a result of the spill.

Commissioners previously have voted to pursue a claim against the company for the losses. It has entered the claims process, but the vote didn't explicitly authorize a lawsuit.

Commissioners approved the action without discussion.

Thus far, governments outside the Panhandle generally have not proved successful in seeking compensation for the spill. Wednesday's vote authorizes attorneys hired by the county to file a lawsuit to seek compensation. The statute of limitations for filing a claim through the court system expires Monday.

The county has hired the Fowler White Boggs firm to pursue its claim. The law firm is working under a contract that would pay it 20 percent of what it recovers, plus legal expenses, if it secures any money for the county. The firm will not be paid otherwise.

"I still believe we have incurred damages from bed taxes and other revenues," commissioner Kevin Beckner said previously. "So I think it's imperative that we make any attempt to recover any of those losses that were due to the county."

Other local governments have also filed claims against BP, with the city of Tampa seeking $50 million in alleged losses.


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