BP Slams Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Claims Czar for Being Too Generous

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/BP-Gulf-Oil-Property-Claims-Rental-Property-Lawsuit-Lawyer-Class-Action">BP oil spill claims administrator Ken Feinberg has faced fire recently from claimants and politicians who say the claims process is too slow and payouts too stingy. But now it appears Feinberg and the Gulf Coast Claims Center is taking heat on another front from a critic that says he is being far too generous with BP oil spill claims. Not surprisingly, that critic is BP PLC, the oil giant responsible for the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and also the party responsible for funding the $20 billion claims fund.

According to The New York Times, BP posted a strongly-worded 24-page document on its website complaining that Feinberg’s proposed settlements are too generous because the “planned payments far exceed the extent of likely future damages because they overstate the potential for future loss.”

According to rules Feinberg released last month, settlements paid out by the fund would be double the 2010 losses for most of those filing claims, less any money previously paid by the fund. That payout plan is based on estimates of environmental and economic recovery for the region – projected for 2012 – commissioned by Feinberg, the Times said.

For its part, BP places future losses in the range of just 25 percent to 50 percent of claimants’ 2010 losses, according to the Times.

As the Times points out, the BP criticism of Feinberg’s payouts appears to undercut his other critics. In addition to complaining that the BP oil spill claims process is too slow, 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.

So far, the only praise Feinberg has received has come from a group of attorneys who are reportedly close to settling hundreds of BP oil spill claims on behalf of their clients.

“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 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.”

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 statemen
t 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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