Oil spill claims payments rise sharply in Gulf Coast Claims Facility’s second week


In a week’s time, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility paid out almost seven times as much in individual and business claims as it did in the first week, according to figures released on its website.

As of Friday evening, the claims process now run by Ken Feinberg had paid out $47.4 million to nearly 6,000 claimants across the Gulf Coast. That’s an average of about $8,000 per claim.

The figures, released on www.GulfCoastClaimsFacility.com, reveal a sharp rise from the week prior, when Feinberg said the process had been “unacceptable” in the first days after he took over from BP PLC. The facility reported about 44,000 claims logged as of Friday.

That still leaves about 38,000 people waiting for checks, like Ben Lyles, who works at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Fairhope.

He said he filed a claim for $7,200 in lost wages on Aug. 23, the day Feinberg took over most of the claims administration from BP.

Lyles said Saturday that he regularly checks the website, and his claim remained in “review” status. When the oil company was handling claims, he said he received three checks for $500.

He’s frustrated, he said, because “They can’t seem to give me any answers.”

In the first week, with about 26,000 claims logged, the facility had reported paying $6 million to 1,200 claimants.

After Feinberg took over, he promised to speed up the process, saying individuals would be paid within 48 hours of filing, and businesses would see a seven-day turnaround.

On June 16, President Barack Obama and BP PLC officials agreed that over four years, the company would put $20 billion into a fund that would cover spill damages, including claims.

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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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