Who’s In and Who’s Out?


Who will get paid by the independent BP oil spill fund? That’s the $20 billion question, and in the absence of any written details, we’re into “policy by interview” as fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg makes his opinions known. That made some waves when he noted that, under Florida law, tourism business lost due to “perceptions” of fouled beaches would not be part of the fund. Given a case of visitors staying away because of perceptions, he offered this comment in the Miami Herald: “Clearly, under Florida law, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not compensable. If there’s no physical damage to the beaches and it’s a public perception, I venture to say that it is not compensable … that’s in this area where some discretion’s going to have to be exercised.”

Of course, not everyone agrees. But the consistent position has been that state laws will be the guide to the fund with an emphasis on preventing lawsuits against BP and others involved in the spill. We’ll stay tuned to see how this plays out, but in the meantime complaints about the current claims process continue to mount.

The Herald says that Feinberg will take over that process “in coming days,” but nobody is saying exactly when that will happen. We do not yet have an opinion on the Feinberg process and eagerly await its implementation.

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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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