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Sarasota suing BP over lost revenue

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Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 3:22 pm | Updated: 8:24 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

Count Sarasota among the dozens of municipalities suing BP over the massive oil spill for keeping away tourists.

Liz Bidoull of Detroit was thinking of coming to Sarasota a few years ago, but the threat of the oil spill drifting ashore scared her and her family away.

"We were a little nervous to come down here because of the oil spill, so we decided to go to Mexico instead," she said.

Turns out her fears were unfounded--and despite the massive explosion and spill in the northern Gulf, Sarasota escaped unscathed. Even though not a drop of oil spilled here on Lido Key, the city says the possibility kept people away and their lawyers say that represents real damage.

"We got seven months starting in April 2010 where people are holding their breath and wondering if the oil is going to show up, and not showing up here--and you take out those people who don't show up here for seven months and that's a huge monetary impact," said Bill Robertson, an attorney from the firm representing Sarasota.

How huge? The city says it suffered $15 million dollars in lost revenue. Resort manager Shaun Griffin heard stories of cancellations along the beach-front hotels.

"People were calling with concerns about oil on the beach and concerned if they could use the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

Attorney Robertson asks, "Are you going to plan a two week wedding with non refundable tickets to go to Sarasota when oil is floating out there and the loop current is getting close to it, it was this game of cat and mouse and it just scared everybody?"

Robertson says any money from the lawsuit would take a year and a half to three years to come back to Sarasota.

(11:34 It's been a few years now, so we decided to come back.)

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