Greenville joins lawsuit against BP

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

GREENVILLE, AL (WSFA) - BP's pocketbook is paying out, but there's still a long way to go.

Despite thousands of claims still unpaid, the company has paid out more than $340 million to affected businesses and residents.

In Alabama, the latest figures show 29,626 claims and 28,166 payouts, totaling nearly $80 million.

Now, some small towns are choosing to sue the oil giant.

150 miles from Gulf Shores, Connie Edwards and Bates' House of Turkey are in the middle of a drastic business dip.

"In the summertime, we're usually standing for three or four hours in one spot, making sandwiches and doing dinners.   I think we had two or three weekends of that this year," explained Edwards, the restaurant's kitchen manager.

They're not alone.  Many of the businesses along the "beach route" are suffering from a lack of tourism.

This week, the City of Greenville joined many other small towns, joining a class action lawsuit against BP.

"We're getting our numbers together, but it's obvious to us, by talking to our hotels, that our numbers are down, maybe as much as half," said Mayor Dexter McLendon.

Looking for money may not be easy.  Dr. Keivan Deravi, picked to put a dollar amount on damages for the state, says cities off the coast will have trouble proving their case.

"According to some laws, there has to be a trespass law, meaning that the oil or natural event has to trespass your property before you can claim for damage," Deravi explained.

As the state continues to gather information before it sends BP the bill, 'small town Alabama' tries to stay afloat

Businesses now rely on tradition and an improving economy while they wait for the results--and some type of relief.

"I haven't had a fuzzy feeling about doing this, but it's something I felt like we had to do to get some of our revenue back," McLendon said.

As more and more municipalities climb aboard class-action lawsuits, the state is working to determine how big BP's bill will be.

Dr. Deravi hopes to have a preliminary estimate of the damage caused by the disaster in the near future.

To see how much money BP is paying out, click here.