The oil spill near the Texas City dyke is already at the center of a class-action lawsuit.

Attorney Sean O'Rourke filed the suit in federal court against Kirby Inland Marine and Cleopatra Shipping Agency – the two companies blamed for the spill.

“We represent a lot of fisherman, charter boat captains, shrimpers, oyster men, people who own bait camps, all who are being directly impacted as we speak,” O'Rourke tells KTRH News.

“We wanted to be there before the defendants in the case file a limitation of liability action, or some similar claim,” he says.

“Their lawyers are already preparing their defense I imagine, so we want to be involved from the very beginning to make sure our clients' rights are represented,” O'Rourke says.

The plaintiffs are seeking lost wages and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and other unspecified relief.

“There's going to be a stigma or a taint associated with these waters and the fish coming out of it for a very long time, so that's the long-term problem,” says O'Rourke.

“The immediate problem is we're closed for business right now, and this is the start of the fishing season for my clients,” he says.