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BP Business Economic Loss Claim Appeal 2016-1719: Tourism Designation Denied Since Limousine Claimant Failed to Show Majority of Customers Were Traveling To the Gulf Coast


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  limousine/town  car transportation  business  located  in  Safety  Harbor,  Florida  (Zone  D),  appeals  the  denial  of  his Failed  Business  Economic  Loss  claim.

Exhibit 6  to  the  Settlement  Agreement  sets  forth  the Compensation Framework for Failed Business Economic Loss claims.  Ex 6, at I. Section III of this  Framework,  entitled  “Excluded  Business  Failure,”  lists  several  types  of  Failed  Businesses that are ineligible for compensation.  Failed businesses “located in Zone D” that “do[] not satisfy the  ‘Tourism’  or  ‘Seafood  Distribution  Chain’ definitions”  of  the  Settlement  Agreement  are expressly excluded from compensation.

Claimant argues that his business should have been accorded  a  Tourism  classification.    This  panelist  requested  a  Summary  of  Review  explaining why the Settlement Program had concluded otherwise, pointing out that Claimant  operated  a  Town  Car  service that  seemingly  predominately  involved transporting people to and from the airport.  His trip tickets of  record  evidence  many,  if  not  the  majority,  of  his  fares  were  to  and  from  the airport  (abbreviated  in  his  weekly  trip  tickets  as xxx).   Also,  the  average  size  of  the  fares  alone  bespeaks  long  trips,  not  intra-city movement of locals.

In timely fashion, this Summary of Review was provided:  The  Claims  Administrator classified  this  business  using  NAICS  Code  485320, Limousine  Service  based  on  the  documentation  in  the  claim  file,  including  the BEL Claim Form, which lists NAICS Code  485320 and describes the business as “airport  transportation  and  limo  service,”  (Doc.  p.  4),  the  claimant’s limousine driver license (Doc.  p. 11), and the claimant’s description of his business (Doc. p. 5).  NAICS Code 485320 is not listed on Exhibit 2 as a Tourism NAICS Code. However, under Policy 289 v.2, a business classified under  a  NAICS  Code  not  listed  on  Exhibit  2  may  still  receive  the  Tourism Industry Designation if the Claims Administrator determines in his discretion that the  claimant’s  business  “provide[s]  services  such  as  attracting,  transporting, accommodating,  or  catering  to  the  needs  or  wants  of  persons  traveling  to,  or  staying   in,   places   outside   their   home   community.”

To   apply   an   Industry Designation  of  Tourism  under  Policy  289 v.2, the Claims Administrator requires objective  documentation,  such  as  customer
lists  or  receipts,  showing  that  a significant  percentage  of  the  claimant’s  revenue  was  derived  from  non-local customers.  For  this  analysis,  we  typically  consider  non-local  customers  to  be those  who  travel  from  outside  a  60-mile radius  to  the  claimant’s  location.

This claimant  submitted  subjective  assertions  that  his  business  was  dependent  on tourism and that he regularly drove customers to and from the airport, hotels, and restaurants,  as  well  as  trip  logs  listing  the  pick-up  and  drop-off  locations  of  his passengers.  However, the  trip  logs  do  not   include  the  home  addresses  of  the customers and indicate that the majority of these trips originated and ended in the Clearwater/St.  Petersburg/Tampa  area.  With  regard  to  his  airport  transportation services,  the  claimant  also  did  not  provide  any  type  of  breakdown  of  revenue derived  from  tourists  he  picked  up  or  dropped  off  at  the  airport  versus  locals  he picked up or dropped off at the airport.

In  the  Decision  Comment  entered  earlier  this  month  in  the  appeal of  Claim  ID ***, the authoring panelist expressed his agreement with the position of
the Claims Administrator that “the  Tourism  designation  is  meant  for  businesses that cater to tourists traveling  to  the  Gulf  Coast  area.”  (Emphasis  supplied.)    That  panelist’s  reasoning,  with  which  the  present  panelist agrees, was as follows:

It is true that the Settlement Agreement does not state that Tourism entities only include claimants catering   to   individuals   traveling   “to”   the   Gulf   Coast.
Additionally,  this  Panelist  recognizes  it  is  a  precarious  exercise  to  postulate  on  what  the  Settlement  Agreement  is  meant  to  say  when  the  Agreement  does  not explicitly define certain parameters. Nevertheless, the evaluation from the Claims Administrator  is  compelling.  The  Settlement  Agreement  was  confected  by  the parties  to  address  economic loss  due  to  the  Spill.  As  a part  of  that  framework,  a  special  category  was  created  for  “Tourism”  entities  on  the  premise  that  these businesses  were  especially  impacted  due  to  the  diminished  number  of  tourists desiring  to  travel  to  the  Gulf  Coast.  It  is  counter-intuitive  to  consider  that  travel  destinations outside of the claim zone would be similarly affected by the Spill.

Thus,  those  of  Claimant’s  trips  to  or from  the airport which transported  locals  there  for  flights  out  of  the  area,  or  picked  up  locals  upon  their  arrival  back
home,  would  not  count  toward  a Tourism  finding  for  Claimant’s business.    There  being  no documentation  demonstrating  that  a  significant  percentage  of  Claimant’s  revenue  was  derived  from  the  transportation  of  non-local  customers, the  Settlement  Program’s  withholding  of  a  Tourism designation was not erroneous.  Denial upheld, appeal denied.

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