Large Group Settlement Could Signal a Softening of Claims Process


Lawyers for a large group of Gulf residents are confirming that 2,000 claims are going to get paid, which sounds like a bunch until you realize that the same report says that “…more than 400,000 individuals and 87,412 businesses have asked to be compensated for economic damages resulting from the spill.”

So far, the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP has paid 168,634 claims for a total of $3.4 billion. Again, that sounds like a lot until you realize that’s well under 25 percent of the fund – and we never have discovered how many claims have been paid in full, or even close to it.

Numbers aside, this development could signal a shift in claims-payment practices. It’s the first large group settlement, as opposed to much smaller case-by-case payments. And it includes significant payments into the million of dollars for some claims – again, that has not been the norm.

The Washington Post reports that among the 2,000 claims are “…small-time oystermen, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and the upscale Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, said Daniel Becnel, a Louisiana lawyer who helped negotiate the deals. Payton has a summer home near the gulf coast, Becnel said. Payments will also go to 900 condominium owners and 50 commercial establishments such as hotels, motels and restaurants.”

We continue to negotiate our clients’ claims at the highest level of the GCCF. We believe Mr. Feinberg and his team are attempting to negotiate in good faith. If a large number of represented claims settle that could prove to be a watershed for the claims process.

See the Washington Post story here:

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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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