Florida complaints result in changes to BP claims process


BP claims czar Kenneth Feinberg yielded to critics and announced today that geographic proximity to the oil spill “would not prevent a legitimate individual or business claim from being processed.”

Feinberg portrayed the change as a “clarification,” though the issue generated substantial heat.

“I have heard from elected officials in Florida, including Gov. Crist, Attorney General McCollum, CFO Sink and others, about their concerns regarding Floridians’ proximity to the spill and how, regardless of distance, there has been economic impact beyond the areas closest to the spill. After listening to these concerns, I have concluded that a geographic test to determine eligibility regarding economic harm due to the oil spill is unwarranted.”

Dan Gelber, a Democrat running for AG, was also among those calling for changes.

Feinberg said he will continue to review each claim on a case-by-case basis, and claimants must prove damages resulting from the spill itself and not other causes, but “physical proximity from the spill will not, in and of itself, bar the processing of legitimate claims.”

His office said that in six weeks, the fund has paid out nearly $1 billion to 50,000 individual and business claims throughout the gulf.

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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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