Can I Still File a Seafood Claim for the Gulf Oil Spill?

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Jun 09, 2013 in Oil Spill

Although the deadline for filing seafood claims with the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) Claims Center was January 22, 2013, the Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau just recently announced that some late filed seafood claims will still be considered.

So....If you are a fisherman, oysterman, shrimper, fin fisherman, or deckhand, and if you have not yet filed a claim, you should contact a lawyer and get a claim filed immediately.

The "Final Procedure Announcement" For Handling Untimely Seafood Claims was issued on May 22, 2013, but it just became public. There are two ways for a claimant to have an untimely seafood claim considered. (i) Relating Back to a Qualifying Claim; and (ii) Excusable Neglect (Much tougher standard).

First (and perhaps most people's best shot) is show that it is an Untimely Seafood Claim that relates back to a qualifying seafood claim. Basically is you can show that the late claim is related to another seafood claim that was timely filed (before Jan. 22, 2013) then that claim will be considered. This will help claimants who accidentally filed claims under the wrong claim type (e.g. if an oyster harvester filed a claim form as a non-seafood claim, it could likely be cured under this procedure). This new procedure will help many fisherman and shrimpers who may have missed the January 22, 2013 deadline due to technicalities such as filing a boat captain claim instead of a vessel owner claim. Basically a claimant must present a seafood claim, to the Claims Administrator, then the claims administrator will issue a "Notice of Seafood Compensation Program Relation Back Filing Deadline Extension" and the Claimant will have 30 days to file the Untimely Seafood Claim. The CLAIMANT MUST ACTUALLY FILE the MISSING SEAFOOD CLAIM FORM FOR the UNTIMELY CLAIM WITHIN the 30 DAY CURATIVE WINDOW.

Second, for untimely seafood claims that do not relate back to a qualifying claim, the Claims Administrator will use an Excusable Neglect standard to determine whether to accept the untimely claim. It seems that DWH wants claimants to file a Request for Excusable Neglect Review, and that this should be done as soon as possible. Factors that will be considered are danger of prejudice to other Seafood Compensation Program Claimants, length of delay in filing beyond the 1/22/13 bar date, impact on Seafood Compensation Program, and reason for the delay (or lawyer's delay) and whether there is good faith. It is clear from the Final Procedure Announcement that it will likely be very difficult to establish Excusable Neglect.

The bottom line is that this is an opportunity for Gulf of Mexico fishermen, oystermen and crabbers who may have missed the January 22, 2013 deadline to have their claims considered and compensated. The procedure is not simple though, and I would recommend that claimants retain an experienced Gulf Oil Spill lawyer to assist with this. For more information about late filed seafood claims contact us at (888) 213-8140.

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