Ken Feinberg, hired by President Barack Obama and BP to take over the troubled claims process, will return to the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday.
Feinberg will meet with business owners and others in Panama City Beach and Pensacola.
Feinberg’s likely to get an earful from local business owners dismayed to discover this weekend that BP has stopped making payments for lost sales in May because oil had not yet landed on Panhandle beaches.
And he’ll probably hear even more grousing about the delays in payments like the three months it took for one Pensacola Beach business owner to get about half what he estimates he lost in sales during May, June and July.
BP initiated an “Immediate Action Claims Team” over the weekend to expedite payments to businesses.
But adjusters or even operators at the “Immediate Actions Claims Team” hotline were unaware of the program when called earlier this week.
Feinberg was tapped in mid-June to take over the claims process for individuals and businesses and dole out the $20 billion BP will put into an escrow fund for Gulf state claims.
BP has yet to make the first payment into the fund, which it will build up over three-and-a-half years, but Feinberg said he’s confident the money will be there when he takes over sometime later this month.
Feinberg will first make six-month emergency payments to cash-strapped businesses and individuals impacted by the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig blast and ensuing massive oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico.
But he’s struggling to establish a protocol – which he’s revised more than nine times so far – to define who should get paid and how much.
BP VP of operations Darryl Willis, in charge of the claims system until Feinberg takes the helm, said his company has received claims from 48 states.
The Panhandle events are open to the public but RSVP’s are required. Those interested in attending can contact the Bay County Chamber of Commerce 850-785-5206 or the Pensacola Bay Chamber of Commerce 850-438-4081 by 4 p.m. Monday to reserve a seat.