Advertiser Editorial: AG King questions BP claims chief


Alabama Attorney General Troy King has made some strong statements about the man chosen by BP to oversee a $20 billion fund to reimburse the economic victims of the BP oil spill.

Reuters reports that King, who has threatened a lawsuit to protect the interests of Alabamians, has called attorney Kenneth Feinberg a “shill” for BP and that he said Feinberg’s statements to those economically damaged by the oil spill were “deceptive.” Feinberg was named on the recommendation of the Obama administration.

“Mr. Feinberg created a draft protocol, developed in secret and vetted by BP before it was shared with public officials. His work clearly protects BP instead of the citizens with losses,” King said in a statement last week.

“Now we have discovered that Mr. Feinberg is being paid by BP and has been provided an aircraft for his private use by BP to facilitate his proselytizing for BP’s interests in eliminating as many claims as he can. Mr. Feinberg has not told the injured coastal citizens any of this,” King said.

Behind all the name calling, King raises some valid questions about the approach being taken by Feinberg and BP in responding to claims.

Chief among them is a 90-day time limit on claims. The clock starts running at the time that the oil well is capped.

But there are still millions of gallons of oil floating both on the surface and under the waters of the Gulf. That oil could have both negative environmental and economic impacts for many months, if not years, to come. In fact, some scientists believe it will take years to fully assess the impact of the oil and chemical dispersants on marine life and the fishing industry.

King also was critical of a requirement that claimants sign a waiver in order to be paid that prevents them from seeking new damages or filing lawsuits. King called this one of the most offensive elements of protocol for responding to claims.

While it may be premature for the state actually to file a lawsuit, the attorney general does raise very serious issues that should be publicly answered by Feinberg, by BP, and by the president. If those responses are not forthcoming and adequate, then a lawsuit may be the only course left to protect the interests of the state and its residents.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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