Big news and commentary today on the critical judicial decision that Kenneth Feinberg is not independent of BP, but along with that direct ruling comes a further order that could open yet another can of worms for the claims and legal process.
The judge ordered parties to the debate to submit additional arguments on the “…question of whether and how BP as the responsible party is fully complying with the mandates of OPA, for example, in the processing of claims for ‘interim, short-term damages’ or ‘final damages,’ methodologies for evaluation of claims, the the release forms required of claimants.”
The Court even asks for briefings on validity of ”methodologies for evaluation of claims, and the release forms required of claimants” and sets a short-fuse deadline of Feb. 11.
At minimum, that signals that the judge is less than 100 percent convinced that terms of the 1990 Oil Pollution Act are being met.
The changes in communication going forward are the most clear-cut of the judicial directions. It means that BP spill victims can likely understand that Mr. Feinberg and those “free” legal consultants are also BP agents. Less clear are any impacts on already-signed claims: Does this reopen those cases? It certainly might.
Now the Court will consider the actual methodology of the claims process – which has been a bit of a mystery so far. So, as we say, stay tuned.
Here’s a Jerry Cope post on HuffPo that quotes me at some length: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jerry-cope/feinberg-bp-ruling_b_817843.html
Here’s the John Schwartz story about the ruling in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/us/03feinberg.html?_r=1&hpw
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