BP oil spill claimants remain frustrated


PENSACOLA, Fla. — The giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has smeared Louisiana with the most crude but has been hardest on Florida’s economy in terms of lost wages and income.

The office responsible for doling out $20 billion in compensation from British oil company BP PLC has already sent thousands of checks to Florida worth a combined $1 billion.

Louisiana’s take from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility: $911 million.

Whether the Sunshine State ultimately outstrips the Pelican State in this grim contest is unclear, because the claims facility is just beginning to shift from issuing emergency reimbursements to making final payments covering losses not only for 2010 but for all years to come.

Those confident or desperate enough to calculate future losses as well as current ones must sign away their right to sue BP to receive the full amount in a final check.

“I have no idea about the long-term impact, and what Florida claimants are going to want,” said Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer appointed by President Barack Obama to run the claims process. Feinberg, who took over from BP in August, has become a household name from Panama City, Fla., to Plaquemines Parish, La.

Much of the fate of BP claimants is in Feinberg’s hands. He sets rules for who gets payments and how much they get to compensate for losses caused by the undersea oil gusher.

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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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