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BP Business Economic Loss Claim Appeal 2016-1987:Claimant Who Purchased Motel After Spill Ineligible Under Policy 362

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Claimant appeals the denial of his BEL claim. For the reasons set forth below, the denial is affirmed.
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.

The record establishes that Claimant is the current owner and operator of a hotel located in Indianola, Mississippi. Claimant purchased the business from the previous owner in June 2010, clearly after the Spill.
After initially filing its claim as a Start-Up BEL claim, Claimant requested that it be re-classified as a standard BEL claim in 2013. On appeal, Claimant maintains that the hotel never ceased continuous operation and that only the ownership changed after the Spill, not the operation. Claimant relies upon the financial records of the previous owner while conceding that there is no evidence in the record that Claimant was authorized by the previous owner to file the claim on its behalf, nor evidence of an assignment of the previous owner’s claim to the Claimant.
Claimant argues that Policy 354 (since discarded) permitted a purchaser of a “newly acquired business” to maintain a claim based in part upon the previous owner’s financial statements. However, Policy 362 provides that a claimant that was not in operation at the time of the Spill is ineligible.
While this panelist is sympathetic to Claimant’s position, the District Court has spoken clearly on this issue, upholding denial of claims made by subsequent purchasers who continued operations of a business purchased by new and separate owners after the Spill (see Discretionary Review Decisions 2015-1820 and 2016-263).
These decisions are binding upon the Appeal Panel and mandate denial of Claimant’s appeal.

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