Nearly 4 years later, many businesses still waiting on BP claims - WFLA News Channel 8

Nearly 4 years later, many businesses still waiting on BP claims

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Business owner Greg Silvia is still waiting on his BP claims Business owner Greg Silvia is still waiting on his BP claims
Althea's in Venice, FL Althea's in Venice, FL

This April will mark four years since the deepwater horizon oil spill, and there are millions of dollars worth of claims that have still not been paid to businesses.

A local restaurant owner has spent thousands out of his own pocket and he's been waiting to hear back from BP for the past two years.

The elegant, palatial restaurant in downtown Venice is hard to miss.

Althea's has been a staple here for 18 years.

"It's been a great 18 years, it's gone by fast," Owner Greg Silvia said.

And just like any business owner, Silvia has had to deal with some obstacles.

In April 2010, oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, devastating businesses throughout the region.

Silvia really didn't feel the effects until late 2010 and early 2011. Venice is a snowbird community, so he experienced his losses a little late.

"2011 was really affected with the amount of rentals and people coming to this area because they're afraid the oil spill would affect the beaches in Florida," Silvia said.

So he filed a claim, spending $13,000 in accounting fees, and more than two years later, he's still waiting.

Adding insult to injury, 27 of his employees filed claims, and all 27 got paid.

"We made sure our employees put in claims and BP was very good, they paid those claims right off. Real quick, matter of fact," said Silvia. "When it comes to getting the owner paid, it's been two-and-a-half years and no offers, no denial letters, nothing. Just complete silence coming from BP."

Sarasota attorney William Robertson told News Channel 8 there are millions of dollars worth of local claims awaiting payment from BP.

Robertson said a federal judge recently ordered that all business claim payments be halted, while BP deals with some litigation.

Silvia has also reached out to many Florida lawmakers and has had little success.

Silvia would love to reinvest the claim back into his business, but for him, this is more than just about money.

"It's a lot about the principle, absolutely," he said. "The principle and everything they put us through. And then just to not pay us, it's even worse."

So he plans to keep on fighting for what he's due.

Robertson told News Channel 8 that claims made in 2011 are very difficult to get approved.

Emily Rogers is a spokeswoman for Senator Bill Nelson's office. She said there are many Florida businesses in a similar situation.

"Unfortunately, a final resolution is held up in the courts right now, but we're hoping for a positive outcome," Rogers said.

BP Senior Vice President of U.S. Communications and External Affairs Geoff Morrell said, "To date, we've spent more than $26 billion on response, cleanup and claims, which includes more than $14 billion on response and cleanup, and more than $12 billion on claims paid to individuals, businesses and government entities. No company has done more faster to respond to an industrial accident."

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