Florida won’t join oil spill suit against Transocean, instead will file claim against BP

Carlos Muñiz, deputy attorney general, told reporters in a briefing Tuesday that the federal lawsuit has nothing to do with Florida being compensated for its economic harm as a result of the disaster. The Oil Pollution Act has a three-year statute of limitations, allowing Florida to retain its legal rights against BP and Transocean, he argued.

“We will still have every legal right that’s relevant to compensating the taxpayers that we have today,” he said.

Muñiz said the Transocean litigation is limited but could expose the state to paying contingency fees to attorneys for little benefit.

“That is not litigation that the state controls. It is being controlled by lawyers that we did not choose and would not be uniquely responsible to Florida,” he said.

By getting involved in the Transocean case, “we could possibly be exposing the state to attorneys fees that could be in the tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for no upside — no benefit for the taxpayers of Florida.”

Florida has not entered negotiations with any private lawyers to pursue a suit, he said, focusing instead on procedures established through the Oil Pollution Act.

“The goal is to get the maximum recovery in the shortest possible time,” Muñiz said.

Tampa Bay Times
3/23/12