Details Sought on BP Oil Spill Compensation Funds

Lawyers representing victims of the BP oil spill want the details of two compensation funds the oil company agreed to set up put in writing. According to Bloomberg News, the request was made in a motion filed with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans. There are currently about 30 oil spill damage cases pending before Judge Barbier.

The funds were announced earlier this summer. One fund is the $20 billion spill-claims escrow account administered by New York lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, and the other is a $100 million companion fund to aid oilfield workers hurt by a U.S. offshore drilling moratorium imposed after the spill.

According to Bloomberg, the motion filed in New Orleans says that BP should produce “any and all trust documents, escrow agreements or other formation documents or agreements to which BP is a signatory’’ relating to the two funds

Meanwhile, the administrator of the $20 billion claims fund said yesterday that he expects to start making payments early next month. Feinberg, who oversaw a compensation fund for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, told a group of Louisiana officials that he anticipated a seamless transition from BP management to his administration.

According to the Associated Press, BP currently has 35 offices in the Gulf Coast area accepting claims, but will not be involved in the claims process once Feinberg takes over. Feinberg said yesterday his office will operate for three years.

BP has committed to paying up to six months’ lost wages, the Associated Press said, and will also try to reach lump-sum settlements for larger claims, such as those filed by commercial fishermen whose business might not recover for years.

Feinberg said that anyone who doesn’t accept a lump-sum payment is still eligible for payment of six month’s lost wages. In such a case, they would not lose their right to seek more in a lawsuit.

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