No Trust For Spill Victims


Reviews continue to roll in after the First Week of the new oil spill claims process – and they’re NOT pretty.

One of the fears is that the “new” process will mirror the old process and seek more and more documentation. That worry ballooned over the weekend as the claims administrator said “most” of the individual claims reviewed in the first week lacked the minimal documentation to be paid.

The Associated Press quotes Kenneth Feinberg as telling those at a Southern Governor’s Convention that: “There are thousands of claims that have been filed with no documentation at all.”

How bad is it? Of 18,900 individual claims submitted in the first week, only 1,200 individuals were paid, the AP reported, citing Mr. Feinberg. And “most” of those paid were for under $25,000. Now we deal with thousands of individuals and businesses who were counting on this new process who are hearing “more documentation.”

Actually, this was a better excuse for BP because it did not have power to make people sign under oath – meaning big trouble if you stretch the truth. Now, these claim forms are more like a tax return, you sign under penalty of perjury.

That means they are, themselves, sworn statement of loss – they should be considered documentation enough, with a review similar to that given tax returns. By asking for more than a signature, Mr. Feinberg is saying, in effect, that the word of residents is not sufficient for BP’s money.

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved

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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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