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Madeira Beach restaurant goes after BP for denied settlement

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A Madeira Beach restaurant is suing British Petroleum, the oil company behind the infamous 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, for breach of contract.

Lisa’s Café filed a claim with BP for damages associated with business losses incurred as a result of the oil spill. Owner Lisa Ammons claimed business plummeted, food prices skyrocketed and her menu options shrank.

In 2010 her original claim was awarded her business $123,858 in compensation. However a month later, according to Ammons’ lawsuit, BP allegedly reneged on its settlement and rescinded its offer.

Among allegations of breach of contract Ammons is also suing BP for fraud and negligent training of staff.

Following the 2010 Gulf oil spill BP created the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Program to “provide swift compensation to … businesses impacted by this disaster.”

The idea was to reimburse businesses, even those not directly impacted by the spill, for losses associated with a decrease in tourism and a hit to the Gulf Coast seafood industry.

The “negligent training of staff” claim stems from Ammons’ reported communication with BP representatives regarding her “opt out” status of her claim. Descriptions of what the “opt out” status meant are vague in the lawsuit, but it’s clear Ammons was unaware of what that status was or what it means.

The lawsuit seems to suggest Ammons could only receive the agreed-upon settlement if the status went a certain way. The lawsuit documents several calls – at least 17 – in which Ammons contacted BP for clarification and to provide requested information regarding her claim.

According to the lawsuit, a representative “even admitted to their mistake” and that “they shouldn’t have even been speaking with her in the first place.”

Ammons alleges her business has continued to be denied compensation from BP under the program. She is seeking damages plus attorney and court fees as well as interest.

It’s not clear how much of an impact the continued withholding of payment has had on Lisa’s Café. A Facebook page promoting the business has more than 1,300 “likes” and lists 1,260 people who “have been here.”

The most recent post on that Facebook page promotes a lunchtime Crab Cake BLT on June 9.

The page also promotes a new Instagram account featuring a photo of the sunset shining through beachfront condos onto a small table set with wine glasses and small place settings.

A May 17, 2013, post announces the restaurant was celebrating its third anniversary, implying the business was in its infancy following the oil spill. The spill occurred on April 20, 2010.

The first post on Lisa’s Café’s Facebook page is dated August 3, 2010. According to reviews on the site from 98 people the restaurant has a 4.5 star rating out of 5.0.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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