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Florida Supreme Court Rules that Fishermen Can Sue For Economic Loss

Published on 07/05/2010 -

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that fishermen are entitled to damages for economic loss caused by a negligent pollution spill even if they do not own the property that was directly damaged. The Court ruled 5-1 in Curd v. Mosaic Fertilizer that fisherman can sue as a result of a 2004 pollution spill that caused damage to Tampa Bays underwater plant life, bait fish, fish, and other marine life.

The state Supreme Courts decision overrules a lower court decision which ruled that the fisherman could not sue because they did not sustain bodily injury or property damage. However, the Curd decision means that economic damages alone can be grounds for lawsuit and that companies whose business may affect the ocean have an independent duty of care to fisherman.

This new ruling comes in the midst of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, which is the biggest maritime oil spill in US history. Legal experts believe that the ruling may be used as precedent for Floridian fisherman to sue BP.

It is estimated that 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil a day are still being released into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the BP spill. BP has announced that costs have topped 3 billion and that nearly 95,000 claims have been filed from those whose livelihoods have been devastated by the spill, including fisherman, oil workers, and tour industry workers.

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