Anyone who worked in the Vessel of Opportunity program in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill in Louisiana, Mississippi or elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, is likely entited to damages. BP and its contractors (including U.S. Maritime Serivces) in many cases, failed to pay vessel owners for all of the time and days owed under the Master Vessel Charter Agreements (MVCA) signed with the boat Captains. The contracts provide that payment is due from the time the boat is under charter until the time that the boat is decontaminated. If you were only paid for the days that you actually worked, then you were underpaid and you are likely owed money. The boats involved in the clean-up--once they were contaminated with oil, could not be used for any other purpose such as fishing, or charter boating (because the boats were exposed to oil). It is for this reason that the boats are under charter until they are decontaminated. Some of the boats used in the VOO cleanup were actually damaged, and BP still has not paid for the damage to these boats.
A lawsuit has been filed in New Orleans, Louisiana on behalf of Lester Ansardi who is a vessel owner from St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana on behalf of himself and others similarly situated. The lawsuit can be seen here ansardi cpkt.pdf . What is unique about this Gulf Oil Spill Vessel of Opportunity Lawsuit is that it is filed in State Court (Orleans Parish, Louisiana) and not in federal court. Since BP is not a defendant in this lawsuit, it is unlikely that the case will be removed to the Federal MDL Proceeding in US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The people who worked in the Vessel of Opportunity Program in the aftermath of the oil spill are heroes. They basically put their health at risk in order to help clean up BP's mess. They also put their boats at risk---which it is important to understand--is the key to most of these people's livelihood. It is, quite frankly, outrageous that these subcontractors have not pay these fishermen the money they are owed. Our law firm works with Finckbeiner & Robin out of Chalmette Louisiana on these matters and is committed to fight hard to get these vessel owners and their crew the money they deserve.