BP Claims Czar Visits FL Atty. Gen. (VIDEO)


Thousands of Floridians are still scraping by, waiting on money from BP to make up for the business they lost to the BP oil spill. State officials say the man in charge of a 20 billion dollar fund set up to pay claims is dragging his feet.

Attorney General Bill McCollum met with Claims Czar Ken Finberg Wednesday morning and indicates if the money doesn’t start flowing the lawsuits will.

At the end of this month Jeff will close one of his shops. Business is still down. The claim he filed back in May still not paid. CFO Alex Sink shared Jeff’s story at Cabinet Tuesday. “If it is going to take an additional month to review and process these claims many businesses will be unable to keep their doors open.”On July 20th, Jeff Elbert came to the state capitol seeking help for his failing business. At the time, the BP oil spill had driven sales at Jeff’s four Pensacola souvenir shops down 40 percent. “To be at the will and the wind of BP is a very frustrating process.”

18-thousand claims have been filed in Florida, but just 55-hundred have been paid. The pace slowed drastically when Ken Finberg, the federally appointed claims Czar took over for BP.

Earlier this week Mr. Finberg told members of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association proximity would play a big role in who gets paid.

Attorney General Bill McCollum met with Finberg for two hours Wednesday morning. Finberg escaped out the back, but McCollum told reporters Florida won’t be overlooked. “If he doesn’t resolve this and allow claims in the state of Florida, all over the state of Florida and the tourism industry, we are going to have a lot of litigation.”

McCollum says part of the reason for the delays in Florida is because Louisiana and Alabama say their claims are more urgent, and are questioning the validity of Florida claims.

McCollum is also asking Finberg to set up a call center that will allow a claimant to talk to the *same* operator each time they call. He also wants a claims representative to relocate to Florida in order to work more closely with state officials.

See video here: http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/102990604.html

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