As frustration continues to mount around Kenneth Feinberg’s claims process, some BP spill victims have found relief in a new compensation fund run by the U.S. Coast Guard called the National Pollution Funds Center.
ProPublica, which has one of the better oil spill coverage sites going, explains it this way: “Claimants who have applied to the Coast Guard’s fund have reported swift intake of their claims and direct contact with their adjusters. But the fund is available only to applicants whose claims have been rejected or who have waited at least 90 days after applying without a decision, and has narrower eligibility guidelines and less money available than Feinberg’s operation.”
Tom Morrison, chief of the Claims Adjudication Division for the Coast Guard’s fund, “cautioned that his decisions would not necessarily be any more generous than those reached by Feinberg, and that certain types of claims considered by Feinberg, such as physical injuries and health problems, will not be accepted by his office.”
The National Pollution Funds Center currently has “only” a billion dollars, which of course is much less than Feinberg has to work with. But the ProPublica report, which is likely to go viral this weekend, raises a thus-far unasked question: If the Coast Guard claims process is good, functional and working – why do we need the Feinberg process? Could it be that BP wanted more control over the fund than it might have with a program created by Congress?
A caveat: The problem I see with going into the Coast Guard-run fund is you very likely will be required to waive your right to litigate in the future. No one should take this route without talking to an attorney first.
We’ll keep an eye on this fund. You can read Sasha Chavkin’s report at: http://www.propublica.org/article/frustrated-oil-spill-claimants-consider-alternative-compensation-fund?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
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