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Chef Susan Spicer Brings Class Action Against BP

With the oil spill now devastating businesses all over the Gulf Coast, BP has repeatedly said it would make good on all legitimate claims of loss. Here is one more to add to BP's list. Famed New Orleans Chef Susan Spicer is suing the oil company for losses to her restaurant business due to the spill. Although she is a highly regarded and well-known chef, Ms. Spicer is also a small business owner who, like the fisherman and others who earn a living from the sea in Louisiana, has seen her business decline in the wake of the oil contamination.

According to a report by Reuters, Spicer is suing BP as the owner of her restaurant, Bayona, in New Orleans' French Quarter, and is also seeking class-action status on behalf of restaurants and others in the seafood industry. Spicer's suit states, "Much of plaintiff's business is based on the unique quality of Louisiana seafood, as well as the chain of delivery of that resource from the initial harvester (be it fisherman, oyster grower or shrimper). Because this chain of delivery cannot be maintained, plaintiff's business has been, and continues to be, materially damaged."

The damages to Gulf coast businesses are wide ranging. Not only the obvious drop in tourism leading to lost profits as cited by Spicer's suit, but according to the Examiner.com, thanks to the oil contamination, simple access to local Gulf seafood is diminishing and the products that are available are more expensive than before the spill. In addition, despite safety measures being taken to ensure that no tainted seafood is sold, customers nationwide seem to be beginning to avoid Gulf seafood products. "I have great confidence in my local vendors and the local products that I am serving, but I know my suppliers are suffering from the reality of a diminished supply and the misperception that all Gulf seafood is unsafe," said Susan Spicer.

Reuters reports Spicer's suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from BP. Other named defendants include rig operators Transocean Ltd; Cameron International Corp, which provided a blowout preventer and a Halliburton Co unit that provided cementing services for the oil well.

According to the Westlaw database, Reuters says more than 250 lawsuits have been filed due to damages alleged to stem from the April 20 explosion and the oil spill that resulted.

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