Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Offers Members Legal Recourse for Oil Spill Claims

August 25, 2010 — The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) today announced a partnership with three respected and nationally-recognized law firms to offer legal representation to those hoteliers and restaurateurs who have either had their claims rejected by BP, or have yet to receive any economic recovery dollars to date.  The three firms selected include Weitz & Luxenberg, Levin Papantonio, and Cooney & Conway.

“Our Association believed it could avoid litigation, hoping that the BP claims process would fairly and fully compensate our collective losses,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.  “But as the BP claims process denied requests for emergency payments and/or paid merely pennies on the dollar in interim payments to our members, we realized we had to seek legal counsel now to protect our membership and the future of Florida’s tourism.”

This consortium of firms are well known for complex and mass tort litigation and for litigating against the largest corporations in the world and have pledged to work together on behalf of FRLA to obtain the best recovery available for FRLA members.

“Ken Feinberg should reconsider his proximity definitions.  If he does not, it will cause bankruptcies that could be saved through emergency payments from the fund,” said Perry Weitz, founding senior partner of Weitz & Luxenberg.  “Whether you are in the Panhandle or whether you are in the another part of Florida, tourism has been down as a result of the oil spill and the media attention and will not recover for many years, causing economic loss of revenue and profits for hotels and restaurants throughout the state.”

If members have previously submitted an interim or final claim to the BP fund, and regardless of whether the member was paid by BP and/or received a claims number, they must resubmit their claim to the Gulf Coast Compensation Fund (GCCF).  FRLA members are encouraged to go to www.FRLA.org to link to our legal counsel and begin the claims process once again.

“It’s essential that Mr. Feinberg and the representatives of British Petroleum make good on their early promises in the media to make this right,” said John Cooney, founding partner of Cooney & Conway.  “They have assured people throughout the Gulf region that their carelessness will not ruin businesses.  It is now time to prove that,” continued Cooney.

“Levin Papantonio is proud to represent the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in the fight to obtain fair compensation for its members due to the reckless conduct of BP, Transocean, Halliburton and all other parties responsible for the tragedy of the Gulf oil spill,” said Brian Barr, lead counsel for the Levin Papantonio Law Firm’s Environmental Department.  “The losses suffered by restaurant and hotel owners all over this great state as a result of BP’s carelessness are staggering. BP does not seem to believe the true cost of its conduct. It will be our job to recover these losses for these Floridians and force BP to pay for the human and financial cost of their lawless conduct.”

In addition, the Association will be hosting local claims briefings with our team of attorneys beginning in Northwest Florida in the coming weeks.  This will allow for maximum outreach to our local hoteliers and restaurateurs and the ability to walk them through the expedited claims process.  Please check back with www.FRLA.org for a list of scheduled briefings in the region.

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About Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA)
FRLA’s mission is to Protect, Educate and Promote Florida’s hospitality industry – which represents a $57 billion industry, 20% of Florida’s economy, $3.4 billion in sales tax revenue, and more than 900,000 employees, making it Florida’s largest employer.  In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that has devastated areas of Northwest Florida, FRLA has led the charge in representing the industry through marketing, communications, tourism briefings, claims procedures, and paid advertisements to let the world know that Florida is Open for Business.  FRLA is among the most influential trade associations in Florida, counting among its members some of the largest businesses across the state in lodging establishments, restaurants, and thousands of suppliers to the industry.  For more information, go to www.FRLA.org.

About Weitz & Luxenberg
With its principal office in New York and additional offices in New Jersey and California, they have over 70 attorneys and a support staff of approximately 300. It was founded in 1986 by Perry Weitz, who is one of the most respected and experienced plaintiffs’ trial attorneys in the country. Of particular importance is Perry’s relationship with Ken Feinberg; they have worked together on large scale litigations for over 20 years and that history resulted in Perry and his firm heading a small committee of law firms negotiating the interim/emergency payment claims protocol on behalf of victims of the oil spill. No attorney in the country has a longer and closer working relationship with, and thus better access to, Ken Feinberg than does Perry.

Perry’s partner, Rob Gordon, is the firm’s chief trial attorney, having tried over 70 cases in his distinguished legal career. Robin Greenwald heads the firm’s environmental tort unit, and she has spent her entire 25+ years as a litigator advocating for the environment and victims of pollution, many of those years as a federal environmental prosecutor.  Perry, Rob and Robin were the 2009 Finalist for Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.  www.WeitzLux.com

About Levin Papantonio
This law firm probably needs no introduction in our State, as Fred Levin, the firm’s founder, is an icon of the Florida trial bar.  In 1999 Fred was named the Best Civil Litigator in Florida by the National Law Journal, and that same year the University of  Florida Law School was renamed the Fredric G. Levin College of Law.  Fred’s partner, Mike Papantonio, is the Firm’s chief trial attorney, is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and was a 2007 Finalist for the Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. www.LevinLaw.com

About Cooney & Conway
Founded in 1958, is a Chicago based firm with over 20 attorneys and 100 support staff. John Cooney, the firm’s managing partner, is recognized throughout the country for his leadership in plaintiffs’ mass tort litigation.  John also has worked with Ken Feinberg for 20+ years on multiple large litigations. John also was a finalist for the Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.  His partner, Bill Fahey, is the Chief of the Firm’s mass tort department, who has tried to verdict or negotiated settlements in excess of $3 billion. www.CooneyConway.com