Monday, August 23, 2010

Gulf Coast Claims Facility Criticized

Ken Feinberg (Photo by Bill Starling/
Courtesy of Press-Register)

Ken Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility receives criticism in its earliest stages

By Nicholas Moroni

Ken Feinberg's Gulf Claims Facility began officially evaluating the claims of alleged spill victims amid a choir of criticism. In the days preceding the transition, Attorneys General from Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi have all offered up their qualms with the manner in which Feinberg will apparently determine the legitimacy of claims.

Feinberg has maintained that proximity to the spill will be a major factor - a cause for concern for residents in regions further away from the shoreline, who claim the spill's effects were still largely felt. In Florida, where oil did show up along the shoreline, tourism in the state has reportedly taken a nosedive, which some credit to the general region's image. Feinberg has stated that stigmatization is not legitimate cause for compensation.

"We've got a proposed geographic map along the Gulf Coast that gives us some flexibility of how we will define proximity," the Washington attorney recently told The Palm Beach Post. However, The Wall Street Journal reported today that Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said there is more stringency to Feinberg's loosely defined protocol than is found in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. He called Feinberg's described methods "completely unacceptable."

Claimants, the attorneys general, and elected individuals have taken issue with Feinberg's ill-deifined position on the responsibilty of business associates of BP. Uncertainty as to whether these companies can be sued following a final settlement, and the deduction of any money paid to fisherman that participated in BP's Vessel of Opportunity clean-up routine, are controverstial topics.

"Mr. Feinberg appears to be completely tone-deaf to the concerns of people along the Gulf Coast," Alabama Attorney General Troy King told The Journal.

Feinberg at this time is mending the protocol he released last week, so all of the evaluation process is subject to change.

To his critics, if litigation is a better options, he advises them to "go ahead."

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