Gulf Coast oil spill claims facility touts ‘milestone’


MOBILE, Alabama – The Gulf Coast Claims Facility announced Monday that it had reached “an important milestone” by processing more than half of the 256,000 final oil-spill claims applications it received.

Included in the calculation are about 100,000 quick payments of $5,000 for individuals or $25,000 for businesses. Such payments are available to any claimant approved for spill damages during the facility’s emergency phase last year.

Quick payment recipients must sign a waiver giving up their rights to pursue further damages or legal action in connection with the spill.

Of the 155,000 applications submitted for full or interim payments, the facility has processed 25 percent, according to the facility’s data. Less than half of those processed applicants were offered payments.

According to the latest claims operation data, which covers the entire Gulf Coast:

  • 78,127 individuals have received $5,000 quick payments.
  • 21,062 businesses have received $25,000 quick payments.
  • 156,634 individuals and businesses have applied for interim or full payments.
  • 18,562 applicants for interim or full payments have received offers; 40 percent were for interim payments.
  • 6,632 applicants have accepted interim or full payments, collecting a total of $66.6 million.
  • 19,413 claimants have been told they did not have sufficient documentation for any payment.
  • 3,100 claimants were denied payment, and 2,277 were told they would receive no more money because their losses had already been covered by last year’s emergency payments or by BP PLC’s claims program.

David Wright, the owner of a south Baldwin County homebuilding company that lost several contracts after the spill, said that four of his former workers were notified by the facility that they can’t get further payments. The facility, he said, ruled that the workers would experience no further financial loss from the spill, despite the fact that three of them are still unemployed.

One worker, Wright said, was making about $2,500 a month before Wright had to lay him off. But the worker was unemployed for the first half of 2009, so when the claims operation compared his 2010 income to 2009, it found that his entire losses had already been covered by a $19,000 emergency payment he received last year.

“They’re saying they had no loss when they’re unemployed,” Wright said. “How can you say there’s no loss? You try to feed a family with no job.”

In Alabama, about 16,000 people and businesses have received about $170 million in quick payments.

About 23,000 have filed for full or interim claims. The facility has made offers to 2,700 of them, and about 750 have accepted a total of $10.5 million.

Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said he believes oil spill claims czar Ken Feinberg is finally starting to understand the urgency that Gulf Coast businesses are feeling.

“I’m praying that by the end of March, everything will be settled one way or another,” he said.

Press-Register Staff Reporter David Ferrara contributed to this report.

1 comment

  • The 2,277 that where told that they would no longer get anymore money because they have already got enough. They did not receive emergency payments. The received – emergency ADVANCE payments. What is a advance.

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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