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USA: Judge overseeing Gulf oil spill lawsuits orders claims fund head Ken Feinberg to stop saying he is independent of BP

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Article
3 February 2011

BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill fund 'underpaying victims'

Author: Rowena Mason, Telegraph [UK]

Jim Hood filed a court motion on behalf of the state, whose residents suffered heavily when BP's oil well exploded killing 11 men last April. He is urging better supervision of the $20bn (£12bn) fund by Carl Barbier, the judge in charge of overseeing legal action against BP. The attorney general claims that people are signing "seemingly very low settlements" that bar them from later legal action, because emergency relief money has not been paid quickly enough. "This scheme is another device for BP [through the fund] to entice claimants to sign a release and to improperly leverage those releases by intentionally underpaying interim claims," he claimed.

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Article
2 February 2011

Feinberg addresses claims transparency complaints [USA]

Author: Gerard Shields, Advocate [Louisiana, USA]

Facing increasing criticism over his handling of BP oil spill damage claim payments, Kenneth Feinberg announced Wednesday a methodology that he said will address complaints that the process has not been transparent. Claimants seeking final payments will receive double their documented 2010 losses caused by the spill, Feinberg said. Oyster harvesters will get four times the loss because the industry was harder hit, Feinberg said...“Prediction is not an exact science,” Feinberg said. “I’ve tried as best as I can to come up with a methodology that works.” Feinberg said he would be accepting public comments on the plan for two weeks on the claims facility website at http://www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com... Gov. Bobby Jindal [of Louisiana said]...“We...continue to have major concerns with the procedures Mr. Feinberg is attempting to establish. We continue to be opposed to the final releases of claimants’ rights.” [refers to BP]

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Article
2 February 2011

Gulf of Mexico to Recover From BP's Spill by 2012 [USA]

Author: Jim Snyder, Bloomberg

The Gulf of Mexico probably will fully recover from the BP Plc oil spill within two or three years, said Kenneth Feinberg, who administers a $20 billion claims fund. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, established by BP last year, will judge final payments to individuals and businesses seeking compensation for spill damages based on the estimates for recovery...Because oysters may require more time to recover than marine life such as shrimp or fish, the region’s oystermen will be paid four times their actual 2010 losses, he said...Jeffrey Breit, a Norfolk, Virginia-based attorney and a member of a plaintiff’s steering committee representing spill victims, faulted the conclusion about the pace of recovery in the region.

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Article
2 February 2011

US judge: oil claims official not independent of BP

Author: AFP

The administrator of BP's $20 billion oil spill compensation fund has been influenced by the British oil giant and must stop telling victims he is independent, a US federal judge said. US District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans ordered BP to refrain from referring to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) -- a fund set up by the oil firm at the White House's urging -- or its administrator Ken Feinberg as independent. The firm must also inform those filing claims for compensation from the disastrous spill that they have the right to consult with an attorney of their choice and can join some of the hundreds of lawsuits pending against BP if they do not accept a final payment, according to the ruling.... Barbier wrote..."While BP may have delegated to Mr Feinberg and the GCCF independence in the evaluation and payment of individual claims, many other facts support a finding that the GCCF and Mr Feinberg are not completely 'neutral' or independent from BP."

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