Riotous Claims Meetings Take Place Across Gulf Coast; Victims Are Done Being Patient


Though it shows a willingness to face the music, you have to wonder how much longer Kenneth Feinberg can do these community meetings to address unpaid claims and a raft of other front-burner issues. These events, taking place across the Gulf Coast, are looking more like riots than civil community meetings. And, frankly, who can blame the victims of this spill for their frustration and outrage?

The growing desperation is evident in media coverage like that from WKRG-TV, which quoted Orange Beach residents planning to attend a meeting where Mr. Feinberg is scheduled to speak later today.

According to one Orange Beach merchant: “If we were dealing with a house fire and there was smoke, the fire department would say this is an emergency. We need to put this out. Well, Orange Beach has been smoking ever since the thing blew up out there in the gulf and there’s no sense of urgency.”

Tony Stubbs, who owns a furniture store in Gulf Shores, had this to say about Feinberg and the new claims process: “He is playing with people’s lives right now.”

Ironically, part of the frustration stems from an early confidence people had in Mr. Feinberg’s ability to process claims efficiently – especially after he promised checks 48 hours after claims were approved. Well, needless to say, promises have been broken and tens of thousands of claims remain unpaid. People are fighting for their lives down here.

Navigating the process itself has proven difficult for many, and we are hearing daily that getting answers via phone is just not happening. Period. In fact, talking with an actual person at the Claims Facility seems to be more difficult than it was under the old BP claims system.

The level of frustration and anger we’re now seeing from spill victims was, in my opinion, inevitable once Mr. Feinberg began telling people they did not need a lawyer. Unfortunately, for all parties involved, he’s made his bed and must now sleep in it. If Mr. Feinberg had encouraged people to retain counsel to assist in this process, things would be moving along much more quickly and smoothly.

Mr. Feinberg is slated to speak at 12:15 p.m. today at the recreation center in Orange Beach.

Ongoing coverage is at WKRG:

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1 comment

  • I cannot imagine that anyone would act surprised under the circumstances. To loose your livelihood {fisheries/tourism/food service} and then your health, and any potential jobs you might have done when in better shape in a better economy, and then to see your mortgage and other loans back up like boat loans, and dock fees, and your kids hopes for college down the drains. Everything you have worked for all your life, or worse, everything built on generations–and its all melting away before their eyes. And from the government? A waiting signal and lies.

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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