WSJ B.S.: Claims Process Is Easy


Given Kenneth Feinberg’s previous statements about lawsuits and his Gulf Coast Claims Facility, nobody expected the GCCF to exactly embrace the idea that victims need balanced information as they face difficult decisions. But I find it pretty shocking that the GCCF website has posted blatant propaganda from the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

But there it is, up on the GCCF website, in all its glory (BTW I’m not going to link to it, as a public service), a virtual re-write of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking points against taking corporate America to court. That lawyers get 40 percent (though most of the contracts I’ve seen are closer to 10 percent), and the tired, virtually childlike argument that “there’s no guarantee that the courts will be more generous than Mr. Feinberg, especially as the damage from the spill recedes and Gulf fisheries and tourism return to normal.” Why would that have anything to do with damages already incurred? And, as we’ve said before, Mr. Feinberg cannot award punitive damages, which, of course, juries can and do.

Not that anyone takes the WSJ editorial page all that seriously, but it’s still nauseating when an established news source implies that claimants can EASILY file for emergency relief. How easy is that turning out to be? The Associated Press reports that of 18,900 individual claims submitted the first week, only 1,200 were paid and most of those for under $25,000. So there’s 17,700 people who might disagree with the WSJ spin.

Even by WSJ editorial page coporate-fawning “standards,” this is pretty low. It’s outrageous that a Claims Facility run by a direct presidential appointee would post such tripe.

But we had to smile as the WSJ foolishness contradicts itself. The paper writes that: “We would have preferred that the Gulf claims follow the regular laws of liability…”

Hey, WSJ: If that were even remotely true, then you’d actually advise people to ignore President Obama’s fund and head straight to the courthouse where those “regular laws of liability” are still very much in effect, now wouldn’t you?

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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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