After a month of unrelenting oil spilling into the Gulf, real estate agencies that rely on vacation bookings are suffering losses in the face of numerous cancellations.

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (June 2, 2010)  – Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. has filed a lawsuit against British Petroleum (“BP”) and several other companies with ties to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The firm represents Sandcastle Escapes, LLC, a real estate management company, which has incurred damages related to the disaster, including: loss of profits and earning capacity.

As oil continues to spew from the undersea well at estimated rates between 5,000 and 60,000 barrels per day, vacationers who rent properties along the Gulf coast are canceling their plans to head to the beach this summer. As a result, rental agencies such as Sandcastle Escapes are losing revenues that they depend on to sustain their businesses and support their families.

“The Gulf Coast used to be known for sugar white beaches, but now the Gulf Coast is known for the unprecedented environmental catastrophe of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Rhon Jones, head of Beasley Allen’s Environmental Law section, said.  “Due to this disaster, the usually busy tourist season has come to a crawl as vacationers are afraid to keep or make reservations to visit. With each failed attempt to stop the leak, businesses along the Gulf lose hope that their livelihood will be restored any time soon.”

Experts say Florida has the most to lose, economically, as a result of canceled vacation plans. Tourism is a significant economic engine for the state, generating $60 billion in spending from more than 80 million visitors a year. Statewide, tourism accounts for 21 percent of all sales tax and employs nearly 1 million people. In Northwest Florida, which includes the Gulf Coast region, tourism revenues from lodging accounted for more than $2.5 million just in the first quarter of 2009, from January 2009-March 2009. The oil spill comes at what would normally be the beginning of the most profitable time for the Gulf Coast region, which traditionally collects almost 73 percent of its lodging revenues in the second and third quarters (April-September). Early estimates since the spill indicate tourism in the area may be down by 30 to 50 percent this summer.

The suit is filed in federal court in the Northern District of Florida on behalf of plaintiff Sandcastle Escapes, LLC, and seeks damages for loss of income, booking fees, or commissions from rental properties and other damages related to the disaster. The suit alleges negligence and wanton misconduct. Defendants named in the suit are BP, Halliburton, and Cameron International.

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