The lawsuit filed by the Harris County Attorney’s office claims the county suffered losses in hotel occupancy taxes and property taxes as a result of the 2010 oil spill. Harris County Assistant Attorney Rock Owens is leading the lawsuit. He says the federal Oil Pollution Act allows the county to seek recovery of these losses.
“What we can show is that we had a downward trend in our tax revenue stream at a period in time such that it can be attributed by our experts to the spill,” Owens said.
The suit names BP, Halliburton, Transocean and seven other companies. It alleges those companies engaged in gross negligence and had prior knowledge of safety and maintenance problems on the Deepwater Horizon
rig. Owens says they’re asking for $23 million to cover lost tax revenues, punitive damages, litigation costs and interest.
“We took our time to make sure that we could have a good lawsuit. It’s four years after the spill, but we didn’t see the impact in our economy until well more than a year later,” Owens said.
The county is seeking a jury trial in federal court, but has also privately filed a claim directly with BP to try to reach an out-of-court settlement. The State of Texas and City of Houston have similar suits filed against BP.