BP Oil Spill Claims Controversy Prompts Call for Investigation

Yet another lawmaker is aiming fire at the administrator of the BP oil spill claims fund. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Florida, has called for an independent investigation of the <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/BP-Gulf-Oil-Property-Claims-Rental-Property-Lawsuit-Lawyer-Class-Action">BP oil spill claims process.

Recently Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the $20 Billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility, has come under criticism for taking too long to pay on oil spill claims. Many have also questioned his independence from BP because it is paying his law firm a sizable fee to run the fund. Earlier this month, the federal judge overseeing BP oil spill lawsuits in New Orleans even ordered BP to stop characterizing Feinberg as “neutral.” The judge also ruled BP must disclose in all communications that the Claims Facility and Feinberg are acting on behalf of BP in administering the fund.

Critics’ skepticism over Feinberg’s independence was reinforced recently, when it was discovered that one of the only two final payment claims resolved by the fund so far went to an unidentified BP associate. Feinberg admitted that he made the $10 million payment at the behest of the oil company, and that he did not review it, though all other claims are subject to review. According to the Associated Press, Feinberg would not further explain why he handled this particular claim in that way.

The payment of that claim is apparently what has prompted Senator Nelson to act.

“When I find out that there was, of all the claims outstanding, that one was paid which was a $10 million claim paid to a BP partner, I want to know why.” Senator Nelson wrote to President Obama and Feinberg last week.

According to WJHG.com, Nelson has yet to receive a reply. However, he said that something has to change, and even suggested President move to replace Feinberg.

Despite all the criticism coming Feinberg’s way, there are some who are pleased with the way he has handled BP oil spill claims so far. That includes a group of attorneys for BP oil spill claimants who are reportedly close to settling thousands of claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Center.

“Mr. Feinberg has been extremely responsive and expeditious in working through what is a tremendous amount of information and cases,” Jerrold Parker, an attorney with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, one of the law firms with that group, recently told the Associated Press. “Given the complexity and enormity of this situation, I think Mr. Feinberg has done a tremendous job.”

A final BP oil spill claims settlement between the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and the group is expected within days. According to a statement Parker Waichman Alonso LLP issued on Monday, the group, which also includes the Law Offices of Daniel E. Becnel, Jr. and Neblett, Beard & Arsenault LLP, has already recovered millions of dollars from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility on behalf of its clients.

Parker Waichman Alonso LLP’s statement said the firm and its co-counsels were still available to help Gulf Coast property and business owners who have sustained significant lost income and reduced property values to their condominiums, hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, summer homes, office buildings and other properties as a result of the BP oil spill. The statement also said that denied BP oil spill claims could be resubmitted to the group, and Parker Waichman Alonso LLP and its partner firms would work to get legitimate claims reopened and reexamined.

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