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Florida becomes 4th state to sue BP over oil spill

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm •  Published: April 20, 2013
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The spill fouled 1,100 miles of beaches and marsh along the Gulf coast, keeping away waves of summer tourists who swim and fish in the waters.

"Indeed, Florida relies on the pristine nature of the Gulf of Mexico as the source for much of the attraction of patrons, tourists and visitors," the suit said.

The suit focuses on the state's economic losses and includes negligence and other claims under federal, state and maritime law.

Bondi argues that the 2010 spill cost the state a variety of tax revenues, including sales taxes, gasoline taxes, cigarette surcharges and beer, wine and liquor taxes.

About 85 million people visit Florida each year, generating $80 billion of business in the state, according to the complaint.

"Without this level of tourism, Florida suffers, as do many of the local people and communities who are supported by it," the complaint said. Moreover, BP "publicly acknowledged that it would cover or otherwise make funds available for damages ... as a result of the spill."

The state also seeks punitive damages, calling it "...the worst oil spill in American history, with the unfettered release of millions of gallons directly into the Gulf of Mexico (that went) unchecked for months."

Warnings of a leak prior to the blowout went unheeded by BP's and Halliburton's rig employees for nearly an hour, the suit said, adding that fire prevention and alarm systems on the rig also failed.

Florida's suit is based on the legal doctrine of "res ipsa loquitur," which presumes defendants' negligence — even without first-hand evidence — if they had exclusive control of whatever causes an accident.

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Follow James L. Rosica on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jlrosica