Claims ‘Process’ Frustrations


It’s hard to decide which is more disturbing, the fact that Gulf residents filing claims with BP are still being stonewalled, or the news that Kenneth Feinberg would be starting his process except BP has yet to make good on its promise to start paying into a $20 billion victims’ fund.

If it’s this hard to get the first $5 billion fund payment, we can only imagine what getting next year’s installment will be like.

In the meantime, Dan Murtaugh at the Press-Register covered one of those BP “community claims meetings” of about 150 people in Orange Beach, Alabama. He was not impressed, leading his story with “… but many said they left just as irritated as they were before they came.”

Murtaugh does a good job documenting examples of what we’re hearing from all across the Gulf: BP is not saying “no,” but instead stalling and asking for more and more documention. Murtaugh tells the story of a rental property owner, John Daversa, who has documented losses of about $27,000 for the year, but BP has paid him only $1,250 so far.

Murtaugh reports: “Every meeting has started with someone saying, ‘Today you’re going home with a check,'” said Daversa. “And they all end with, ‘We just need one more document.’ “Now there’s a real trust issue,” he said. “Now, frankly, I don’t believe in this whole process.”

The Orange Beach mayor called the BP claims gathering a “propaganda” meeting.

Multiply that experience by thousands and you have the claims story of the Gulf. The idea, of course, is to wear people down in the hopes that their claims go away, or they go bankrupt, or they lose their home and move away. It’s all about not paying, and now they’re not even making good on setting up that much anticipated $20 billion fund. They most likely will, of course, but they know that every week of delay saves them millions. The Press-Register story is here:

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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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