Feinberg will let public comment on his guidelines for paying final claims


MOSS POINT, Miss. – Oil spill claims czar Ken Feinberg said Monday that he will give the public a chance to weigh in on the guidelines he’ll use for calculating claims payments across the Gulf Coast, but will wait until Feb. 1 before processing 92,000 requests already in hand.

Feinberg made the announcement following a testy town hall meeting here during which some people accused him of lying and scamming Mississippi fishermen.

Since Nov. 23, Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility has received about 75,000 applications for a final settlement and 17,000 for interim payments in addition to claims for emergency relief

Adjusters will wait until after Feb. 1 to begin processing the interim and final claims requests, he said. First, local, state and federal officials, as well as seafood associations and other business groups on the Coast, will all have a chance to see the formulas he plans to use .

The decision to widely circulate his process comes after months of criticism from business owners and elected officials that Feinberg’s operation has not explained how it came up with the payments it offered during the emergency claims period.

Feinberg has promised more transparency.

People who accept final settlements must sign waivers promising not to sue anyone involved in last year’s Gulf oil spill. Those taking the quarterly interim payments do not.

Feinberg’s organization is also offering so-called quick payments to anyone approved for an emergency claim over the summer. Those payments — $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses — require no financial documentation but do require people to sign lawsuit waivers.

More than 49,000 people and 12,000 businesses have asked for those quick payments, according to claims data.

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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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