It was only a matter of time before the Gulf fishing industry -- whose entire livelihood has been threatened by the Gulf oil leak -- struck back at the organizations responsible for causing the mess.
Pappas Restaurants Inc. filed a lawsuit aganist British Petroleum, Halliburton and Cameron International last Thursday, May 13, in Galveston County Court No. 2, according to The Southeast Texas Record. The restaurant empire is seeking unspecified monetary damages as well as a jury trial, which will likely benefit them if it takes place in Galveston.
On May 5, Jim Gossen of Lousiana Seafood discussed the possibility that the oil spill could affect Gulf fishing for years to come. But at that point, it was too early to gauge the level of damage that had been done when a Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded on April 20, killing 11 people and opening a breach in the pipeline that is currently leaking anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico's waters.
"People are hoping for the best," Gossen said.
But it quickly became apparent that the best-case scenario wasn't going to happen. On May 18, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that it had closed 19 percent of the Gulf -- more than 45,000 square miles of sea -- to fishing until further notice. BP has shown no signs of being able to permanently contain the leak which, if it continues at this rate, will be the largest oil spill in history as of June 13, less than a month from now.
The petition that Pappas -- which is headquartered in Houston but owns restaurants in seven states -- has brought against BP and Halliburton states, in part:
On balance, the leak caused by the defendants and needlessly perpetuated by the defendants is ruining plaintiff's ability to obtain the necessary food to serve at its restaurants at fair price.
The plaintiff has seen and will experience a steep increase in costs and a sharp decline in patrons, sales, and overall business as a result of this disaster.
The most important thing that this lawsuit indicates is that -- as Gossen had previously indicated -- the initial spike in seafood demand from customers and restaurants who wanted to stock up in advance of diminishing availability wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction to the disaster, but a keen warning of things to come.
Pappas' lawsuit isn't the first that's been brough against the oil giants and it won't be the last, but it's the first to indicate that Gulf fishing is much more seriously affected than previously thought.