BP Gulf spill victims left with scraps by Feinberg quick pay fund
On Dec. 13, 2010, Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of BP’s $20 billion compensation fund announced that there would be a “quick pay” option for Gulf Coast oil spill victims. Residents who suffered due to the BP disaster would be able to receive a check within just two weeks. Individuals who accepted the offer would receive a final lump-sum payment of $5000. Businesses would get $25,000. This offer came with a hidden price tag though, one that could end up costing the victims much more in the long run. Accepting the payment from Feinberg requires the payee to forfeit any additional compensation, and to completely give up rights to sue BP, or pursue any other claims with the oil company. (Huffington Post)
In addition to BP, this waiver would force recipients to agree not to sue the company’s partners. This would mean freeing from any further legal obligationsall of the companies who were involved in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. The explosion killed 11 rig workers and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, making it the worst spill in US history. The spill caused income and job loss for hundreds of thousands of Gulf residents who worked in the fishing, tourism, and deepwater drilling industries. (Reuters)
If your livelihood or property has been affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill, we urge you to seek the advice of a Weitz & Luxenburg lawyer before signing job applications, requests for financial reimbursement or other documents. You may be signing away your rights.
Forced to settle for “scraps”
Severe criticism has been levied at Feinberg and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility for issuing the quick pay option. Leading attorneys, representing people and businesses who are suing BP, described Feinberg as a pawn utilized to shield the oil company from further accountability. The lawyers also wanted to remind possible claimants that BP is paying Feinburg’s firm $850,000 a month to administer the funds.
“Mr. Feinberg – in his approach towards the timing and nature of settlement offers, in the protection of his deliberative process from disclosure, and in securing full releases and assignments in BP's favor – seems indistinguishable from a defense attorney attempting to settle cases on behalf of BP," stated the lawyers in a New Orleans federal court filing to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier. (Huffington Post)
Criticisms from Gulf Coast residents have been no less harsh.
Keith Ladner is one of Mississippi’s largest seafood processors. He used to employ about 70 boats. He said that his claim for $1.7 million in financial losses has been pending for three months. His losses continue to grow while he is waiting, but he said that would not choose to take the $25,000 quick payment option.
"I think that's the perfect definition of extortion," Ladner commented, adding that Feinberg seems to be intentionally keeping people waiting for their payments, so that they eventually have to settle for “scraps.” Ladner said that the quick pay amount would not even cover his past due rent.
Orange Beach, Alabama was hit hard by oil from the BP spill. The town’s mayor, Tony Kennon, is concerned that many residents may take the quick payment out of sheer desperation. "They don't know how long they'll have to hang on if they don't take this new quick cash route," he said.
Kennon noted that many local business owners have only been paid a small fraction of their financial losses, if any at all. "They don't know how long they'll have to hang on if they don't take this new quick cash route."
Get the full compensation you deserve
If you or someone you know, has experienced financial loss due to the BP oil spill please fill out the form below. A Weitz & Luxenburg representative will contact you shortly for a free consultation. You do not have to settle for scraps. Claimants have the option of receiving interim compensation payments while they make decisions regarding further actions. Weitz & Luxenburg is here to help you get the full legal compensation you are entitled to. We are one of the nation’s leading litigation law firms, and currently represent over 500 fishermen in suits against BP in the Gulf Coast.
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