Feinberg to Offer Oil-Spill Victims Quicker Payments


Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) – Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the $20 billion BP Plc oil-spill claims fund who has been faulted for slow payments to victims, will offer a quicker process to final compensation.

Individuals would get $5,000 and businesses $25,000 within two weeks if they accept a fast-track payment process, according to a person familiar with Feinberg’s decision, which he will announce today at noon Washington time. Only recipients who have received emergency payments are eligible. The checks would be the final, lump-sum payments and in return the claimants must waive their rights to sue BP and the companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Policy makers and residents of the Gulf Coast have criticized Feinberg and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility he runs for not ruling on claims quickly enough. Businesses face “imminent failure,” Representative Jo Bonner, an Alabama Republican, told Feinberg in a Nov. 23 letter. Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli said he had “concerns about the pace of the process” in a Nov. 19 letter.

Claimants who forego the $5,000 or $25,000 payments may apply instead for interim payments on a quarterly basis, or for final payments in excess of the fast-track limits. Claimants have three years to apply for final payment. The deadline for applying for emergency payments was Nov. 23.

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported on the new payment system today.

As of Dec. 11, the claims fund had received 463,795 claims and had written checks for almost $2.48 billion to more than 166,000 people and businesses, according to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility’s Web site. More than 232,400 claimants had been denied, according to the website.

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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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