Ken Feinberg promises to improve Gulf oil spill claims process


Ken Feinberg promised top Alabama elected officials on Friday that he would improve oil spill claims operations, and that his Gulf Coast Claims Facility will process at least 25 percent of all pending claims by March 31.

He made the assurances in a conference call with Gov. Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange and U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile.

As of the most recent data available, there were 19,175 claims still under review in Alabama.

“It’s time we speed up and streamline the claims process so people living near our Gulf Coast can begin to recoup their losses,” Bentley said in a news release.

Feinberg offered to reimburse claimants for accounting services, and named three accounting firms that would help them. He also will add six lawyers to assist in the claims process, according to the release.

Bonner and Strange said they would hold Feinberg to his word.

“We cannot rest until we obtain the fullest extent of relief possible for the innocent victims who live in Alabama,” Bonner said.

Some government leaders along the coast expressed doubt about Feinberg’s Friday pledges.

“He’s been saying that for six months,” said Gulf Shores Councilman Jason Dyken.

Last month, Dyken said, he was hopeful that Feinberg would improve the transparency of the claims process. But the councilman said he believes that Feinberg has delayed paying businesses and individuals in order to get them to accept small final payments.

Of 573 final offers made, about 129 claimants accepted an average payment of a little more than $11,000.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s been a lot of changes,” Dyken said. “And I’m not very optimistic. I understand the complexity of their task, and I understand the magnitude of their task. But then again, it’s not rocket science.”

A few weeks ago, business owners met one on one with GCCF staffers to show how they were affected by the spill. According to various accounts, numerous of the business owners have not heard whether they will receive payments.

Greg Kennedy, co-owner of Waves Shopping Center in Gulf Shores, said that business owners he knows are wondering how they’ll make it through the spring and summer.

“We’re scrambling and doing everything we can to hang on,” Kennedy said.

Ron Kutter, who owns Kutter’s Grounds Maintenance Inc., emerged from that Feb. 10 series of meetings with GCCF with a more optimistic attitude.

Kutter said he got a call from a GCCF staff member earlier this week. Until then, he had received nothing but a denial letter and a request for more documentation.

He described the call as a “ray of light.”

“I’m in limbo, too, but I just wanted someone to know that Ron Kutter is out there and is honestly due compensation,” Kutter said.

Kennedy was waiting for word that he would be reimbursed for lost rent.

“There’s been no change,” Kennedy said. “We’ve gotten a little lip service from Feinberg’s office, but we have not seen a check.”

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This