In a region desperately grasping for some financial clarity, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility continues to change the rules of the game. But at least the latest reversal seems to be good news (although you never know for sure until you see the follow-up). Mr. Feinberg is now saying that oil spill claimants can continue receiving periodic interim payments over the next three years and still retain their legal right to litigate in the future.
We’ll save the big sigh of relief until we see details, but it looks like a very promising development if it holds true.
Many Gulf residents feel they have money coming to them, but it’s tough to keep it all straight when claims czar Ken Feinberg continues to say one thing and then delivers another. But the “middle ground” payments would make sense, because clearly the claims centers are not hung up on “emergency payments.”
According to the Associated Press, Mr. Feinberg made the announcement, in effect, when he told Florida officials “… that he’ll offer that choice as an alternative to taking a final award and giving up the right to sue after the Nov. 23 deadline for filing temporary, emergency claims.”
Mr. Feinberg also reportedly reiterated that he’ll allow claims from places untouched by oil, like many Florida locations, but said distance will be a factor in calculating the amount of those damages. That is slightly different from recent news headlines indicating that those “proximity” claims would simply be covered, implying to many that they would have equal standing with businesses in the more heavily impacted areas. With so many claims being paid at pennies on the dollar, it’s troubling that there’s no real, established formula for proximity situations.
But good news is rare these days on the Gulf Coast, and it’s a welcome relief if Mr. Feinberg is, indeed, creating some middle ground on claims. It may make the process more complex in the short term, but for many families it will reduce the intense financial pressure to sign away legal rights or lose their home – not exactly a level-ground bargaining position.
Read the AP story at al.com here: http://blog.al.com/wire/2010/10/feinberg_says_oil_spill_claima.html
© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved