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BP Business Economic Loss Claim Appeal 2016-1182: Bait and tackle shop Not “Seafood Wholesaler or Distributor” and Location on Intercoastal Waterway Is Not Location on a “Road” D

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The following is an Appeal Panel Decision issued pursuant to Section 6 of the BP Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement and the Rules Governing the BP Appeals Process. Links may have been added to assist the reader. The original decision may be found here, as well as a glossary of BP Settlement terms.


Claimant, a bait and tackle shop in Clearwater, Florida, appeals the denial of its Start-Up BEL claim on the basis it failed to satisfy the causation requirements of Exhibit 7 of the Settlement Agreement. Claimant asserts it bypasses the causation requirements of Exhibit 7 because it is located on the intercoastal waterway and in zone A with presumptive causation; because it qualifies as a Landing Site as defined in Exhibit 3 of the Settlement Agreement;and because it qualifies as a Seafood Wholesaler or Distributor as defined in Exhibit 3.A review of the record discloses that claimant’s business is located at***.

On its Start-Up BEL claim form in paragraph 8 claimant declared it was located in zone C; and in paragraph 9 described its business activity as “fish supplies, bait, tackle and fishing rods.” The Settlement Program’s Zone Locator Tool confirms claimant’s business location is in zone C,a fact claimant does not dispute.  Claimant  argues however, that since it is located on the intercoastal waterway, which serves as a border for both zone A and zone C, it qualifies for the exception of Exhibit 1C of the Settlement Agreement which provides that if a claiming business is located on a “road” that borders two different zones that “road” is to be designated within the “more preferential zone.” Claimant thus posits the intercoastal waterway is akin to a road and warrants claimant’s placement in zone A.

This argument is unavailing as Exhibit 1C applies only to three “road” types: surface roads,surface roads with exit ramps and frontage roads, and limited access roads. Claimant is not located on any of these road types and its mere proximity to a zone A location is not sufficient to bestow a change in zone designation.

Next, this panelist concludes that claimant does not qualify as a “Landing Site” which is defined under Exhibit 3 at 3 of the Settlement Agreement as “a business at which boats first land their catch, including facilities for unloading and handling Seafood.A landing site may also include the provision of ice, fresh water, fuel and boat repair or service in connection with the landing of Seafood.” A review of the record does not support a finding that claimant is involved in any of these enumerated activities. Claimant’s proximity to adjacent landing sites which results in other incidental activities on claimant’s premises by commercial fishermen (cleaning or dressing their catch) does not rise to that level to satisfy the requirements of Exhibit 3.

Finally,claimant does not qualify as a “Seafood Wholesaler or Distributor” which is defined under Exhibit 3 as “an Entity or Natural Person that purchases Seafood in bulk quantities and sells to retailers such as restaurants and fish shops.” Claimant is not engaged in such activities. Claimant nevertheless contends it qualifies as such under policy 269 which expands the definition of Exhibit 3 to embrace businesses that play a necessary role in the distribution of seafood. Claimant attempts to bootstrap itself into these provisions arguing that “Claimant’s practices of selling bait to fishermen place it within the stream of commerce of seafood production***.” Policy 269 applies to businesses that are “Seafood Brokers” and to transporters of seafood products. Claimant is neither of these. Selling bait is not the equivalent of the sale of seafood. Policy 269 does not apply to claimant’s business operation. There is no error. Accordingly,the decision of the Claims Administrator is affirmed and the appeal of claimant is denied.

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