BP Oil Spill Claims Czar Takes More Heat

Ken Feinberg, administrator of the <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/BP-Gulf-Oil-Property-Claims-Rental-Property-Lawsuit-Lawyer-Class-Action">BP oil spill claims fund, is taking it on the chin again. This time, two lawmakers have written to Feinberg, blasting his criteria for determining whether a claim submitted to the $20 billion a BP-funded oil spill compensation fund is eligible for payment.

According to the Press-Register, the letters were written by U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile and U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa. Bonner complained that Feinberg and his team appear not to recognize the “economic interdependence” of every business in a tourism economy, and accused him of routinely denying claims. Among other things, Bonner faults an absence of guidelines spelling out how claimants can prove damages from the spill, as well as ambiguity over what documentation they need to submit.

Shelby noted that more than 57 percent of Alabama residents and businesses who have pending claims have received no compensation. His letter expresses concerns that Feinberg’s payment methodology fails to account for the damage to public perception, which could last long after the Gulf recovers from the actual oil.

As of last Thursday, the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP had paid 168,634 BP oil spill claims for a total of $3.4 billion. More than 400,000 individuals and 87,412 businesses have asked to be compensated for economic damages resulting from the spill, though a large number of them have been dismissed as having no merit.

Feinberg and the Claims Facility have been a magnet for criticism by many who say the BP oil spill claims process is too slow, and lacks transparency. However, some lawyers for BP oil spill claimants have had high praise for Feinberg.

“Mr. Feinberg has been extremely responsive and expeditious in working through what is a tremendous amount of information and cases,” Jerrold Parker, with the national law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, told the Associated Press. “Given the complexity and enormity of this situation, I think Mr. Feinberg has done a tremendous job.”

Parker Waichman Alonso LLP is one of a group of law firms working together on BP oil spill claims, and according to the Associated Press, is close to a settlement with Feinberg on behalf of hundreds of clients. 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 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.

Another attorney working with the same group told The Washington Post earlier this week that Feinberg was doing “fabulous job”, and pointed out that the BP oil spill claims his group could soon settle were supported by extensive supporting materials from economists, environmental scientists and real estate experts.

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 <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP and its partner firms would work to get legitimate claims reopened and reexamined.

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