Oil spill claims czar refutes McCollum criticism that new claims system worse than BP’s for victimsby Dara Kam | August 22nd, 2010
Ken Feinberg, who’s’ taking over BP’s troubled claims system at midnight, rejects Attorney General Bill McCollum’s contention that the new claims czar’s expedited emergency payment system is worse than BP’s.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” Feinberg said today on a conference call with reporters when asked about McCollum’s critique.
Feinberg said he expects a flood of applications when the Gulf Coast Claims Facility goes online at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
The lawyer, hired by BP and President Barack Obama, received high marks for his handling of the compensation fund for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks but is under fire for vague guidelines about how he will dole out the $20 billion BP has pledged for Gulf Coast individuals and businesses who’ve lost money and jobs since the April 20th Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Feinberg has yet to reveal how much money he’s being paid to take over the claims system and won’t release internal documents detailing how BP’s adjusters have been retrained to handle claims.
Some Panhandle business owners waited for months without getting any payment from the oil giant for their losses and those who did receive checks had no idea how the amount was derived or what time period it covered.
Feinberg is using “proximity,” or how close claimants are in relation to where oil washed up on the beach, as one factor in deciding who gets paid. That’s more onerous than federal law, McCollum complained in a letter on Friday.
Feinberg says his system gives claimants a free review of how they would fare in court.
“It’s truly a free preview. Nobody is obligated to come into this program and accept the award unless they voluntarily reach a conclusion that it’s in their interest,” Feinberg said.