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Florida Gov. Scott urged to sue over BP Gulf oil spill

The rosy scene bothered Tampa attorney Steve Yerrid.

There was Gov. Rick Scott on Monday, happily announcing a $30 million marketing and tourism grant from BP for seven Panhandle counties, thanking a BP senior executive at his side for "stepping up."

Yerrid, appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist last year to serve as Florida’s special counsel on the oil spill, says the grant is “chump change” compared to at least $1 billion the state could get from filing a claim against the oil giant.

“The fact that we haven’t filed a claim, and [Scott’s] been in office since January, to me cannot be adequately explained,” Yerrid said. “It’s not like Florida doesn’t need the money.”

Scott has said he does not want to resort to a lawsuit, though his office said Monday it was working on a possible strategy for a state claim — a precursor to filing suit.

"My goal is to try to work with BP and make sure we don’t end up in litigation," Scott told reporters.

Scott’s reluctance irks a cast of Floridians who want the state to receive the same legal consideration as Louisiana and Alabama, which have already joined a federal case that could be worth tens of billions of dollars. Time is running out, they say.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, sent Scott two letters, one in December and one Monday, urging him to “doggedly” pursue a claim to cover Florida’s damages and protect taxpayers.

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