Ken Feinberg Forming Oil Spill Claims Task Force


Alabama’s Senators met with Ken Feinberg Thursday afternoon to talk about the oil spill claims process.

Feinberg, as many of you know by now, is the man in charge of the $20 billion oil spill fund.

During the meeting, Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby shared the frustration and anger felt by oil spill victims, especially those who filed the roughly 27,000 claims yet to be paid.

Sessions says many Gulf Coast businesses are in crisis mode and will not survive the winter without their claim being paid.

After the meeting, Feinberg announced he’s forming a task force to tackle the unpaid claims.

“I will develop a task force, my accountants, my people, to meet with business accountants in Alabama and go over these claims,” Feinberg said. “If they are adequately documented and if it can be demonstrated clearly that they are entitled, I will bend over backwards to help these businesses.”

Feinberg says his task force will be in Alabama next week.

Shelby says people who file claims will not have to sign away their right to sue BP.

Comments from Senator Richard Shelby
“The GCCF is not acting with appropriate urgency. Many small businesses have received inadequate payment and explanation, if any at all. I called today’s meeting with Mr. Feinberg because victims on the Gulf Coast are frustrated and because I am frustrated.

Over the past several months, I have visited the Alabama Gulf Coast many times to survey firsthand the damage caused by the BP oil spill. In the intervening time, my office and I have been in close contact with local leaders and residents affected by the disaster. Businesses along the Gulf Coast are not only trying to survive now but also prepare for the next tourist season, which is quickly approaching.

I raised a number of issues with Mr. Feinberg today. First, there is no clear formula to determine payment of a claim. Filers deserve clarification as to why their claims were denied or their payments were less than expected.

In addition, I made clear to Mr. Feinberg my concern that there is no process for claimants to submit an appeal prior to a final payment. These victims deserve a fair opportunity to appeal inadequate payments, particularly in light of the lack of transparency, clarity, and consistency in the payment process.

Finally, Mr. Feinberg and the GCCF must eliminate the backlog of claims that were already submitted to BP. These claims have been outstanding the longest and need to be resolved expeditiously.

Mr. Feinberg pledged that he would create a task force to address these concerns. This task force will be on the Alabama Gulf Coast within two weeks. Any business that believes it was treated unfairly will now be able to file for an interim payment every three months for the next three years. Mr. Feinberg stated he would re-evaluate the original payment and provide additional payments if necessary. Further, no claimants will have to sign away their right to sue.

I appreciate Mr. Feinberg’s pledge, but I will be monitoring the situation closely to see that it is fulfilled. I told him to address these issues and meet back with me after the task force visits Alabama to show me exactly what steps were taken to resolve these concerns.”

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

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