Feinberg May Play It Fair With Cleanup Workers After All


It’s only a very a small step in the right direction – and only a potential step at that – but still you have to welcome news that the Claims Facility might not end up deducting cleanup wages from settlements. A clear (potential) victory for fair play. I’ve been among those critical of the deduction because it means the cleanup workers were actually volunteers. The money they earned cleaning up BP’s mess is then taken right back through the claims process – and that seems brutally unfair to people risking their health to cleanup the Gulf.

The Associated Press and others are reporting on comments from Kenneth Feinberg, the compensation fund administrator, who told “hundreds of people who packed a convention center in Houma, La.,” that he is reconsidering the decision. “I’m taking it under advisement,” Feinberg said. “The last time I said, no way, I’m deducting it. Now, it’s open for discussion.”

Perhaps even more important is that Mr. Feinberg said he is considering a “supplemental” payment between the current emergency payments and final settlements. This would be particularly good news for people who received partial emergency payments or those working through mistakes or shortages in their payments. It would mean some financial pressure might be lifted before people face waiving their legal rights in return for a final payment.

Read more about Feinberg’s comments here: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/09/bp_claim_czar_considers_making.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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