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Lake Eugenie Land & Development, Inc. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc. (In re Deepwater Horizon)

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20076
Nos. 15-30574, (5th Cir., 04/08/2016)

The Fifth Circuit upheld a lower court decision ordering a commercial fishing company to pay back the money it received from the Deepwater Horizon settlement fund and barring it from receiving future payments. The Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement included a Seafood Compensation Program that covered commercial fishermen, seafood crews, or seafood vessel owners that operated vessels in the Gulf Coast around the time of the oil spill. The company was awarded more than $280,000 for claimed shrimping revenue, but a subsequent investigation demonstrated that the company submitted fraudulent claims to the settlement fund. The company filed sworn statements affirming that the revenue shown on its 2009 tax return came only from commercial shrimp landings, when in fact 80% of the revenue came from marine debris cleanup, an activity not covered by the settlement fund. The lower court, therefore, did not abuse its discretion in finding fraud and ordering restitution. Nor did the lower court abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions that prohibited the company from further participating in the settlement agreement’s Seafood Compensation Program.