Claims Process Is Getting More Complicated, Not Less; Commercial Fishermen Remain Wary of Claims Penalties


We were warned. Alaska victims of the Exxon Valdez spill told us that a Big Oil tactic is to provide “lottery”-style payments, with just enough people hitting it big to keep everyone else hoping and waiting. That underhanded approach causes an array of problems and stresses, and WWL-TV has a good example out of New Orleans.

Scott Satchfield’s Eyewitness News report includes Gary Bauer, a seafood processor, who says the issue is that money made from fishing now will be deducted from a fisherman’s claim. “It’s kind of like penalizing the commercial fishermen that have the initiative to go back to work,” Bauer tells the TV station. “So, what incentive do they have to go back to work right now?” Great question.

And consider the implications of  this: Amy Weiss, a spokeswoman with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, explains that if fishermen stay home when they could be getting back to work, they’re no longer eligible for collecting. “If people can go back and fish, or if they can crab, or if they can go back to the jobs that they had, they, first of all should do that, and second of all, won’t receive payment if work is able to be undertaken,” she said.

And who decides that? Once again, we see where the absence of clearly written and widely understood rules creates plenty of wiggle room for Ken Fienberg and the claims process. Now, somebody you never see is going to determine if you “could” have gone back to fishing? What about people who worry that the seafood is contaminated? Should they lose money because they know better than to trust the government’s “Mission Accomplished” messaging?

The real mission that’s being accomplished it to keep residents in a state of stressful chaos, hoping that they will be among the relatively few that BP “makes right.”

You can check out the report from the front lines of the BP spill here:–107124229.html

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This