Group complains about oil spill claims process


BATON ROUGE – With chants of “write the check,” more than 250 people gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday to complain that oil spill claims coordinator Kenneth Feinberg is not doing enough to process requests by the poorest claimants.

Led by ministers affiliated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the group said hotel maids, restaurant workers and others at the bottom end of the economic ladder have often seen their claims denied or ignored with no explanation.

“We must have inclusion. We must have our rights,” said the Rev. Art Rocker, a special assistant to the chairman of the SCLC.

The group came to voice its collective frustrations to Gov. Bobby Jindal. But the governor was in Texas on a fund-raising trip so his chief of staff, Timmy Teepell, addressed the group.

Teepell read a statement from Jindal that said his administration “continues to have concerns about the fairness, timeliness and accuracy” of the claims process.

Jay Patel, who described himself as a spokesman for the hotel industry, said only 10 percent of the roughly 700 Indian-American hotel and motel owners who filed spill-related claims have been paid.

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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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