Almost 100K false claims to oil spill fund, Feinberg says

By Alejandro de los Rios | Mar 2, 2011


NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Gulf Coast Claims Administrator Kenneth Feinberg told a group of foreign journalists Monday that close to 100,000 claims submitted as a result of the BP oil spill "lack proof."

United Press International reported today Feinberg's statement that he cannot pay "80 percent of the remaining 130,000 claims because they lack adequate documentation."

"The claims that were denied had woeful, inadequate or no documentation to speak of," Feinberg is quoted as saying.

The GCCF has come under heavy scrutiny from all parties.

Currently state attorneys general and plaintiffs attorneys are arguing that the GCCF is in violation of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Recently, Alabama, Mississippi Florida and Louisiana all filed memos criticizing Feinberg and the GCCF.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell submitted a memo Feb. 14 asking that the GCCF stop requiring claimants to release their right to sue BP and other defendants in exchange for final payments.

Feinberg's lawyers fired back with an amicus curiae brief the same day claiming that the GCCF is "substantially exceeding ... all of OPA's requirements."

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who presides over oil spill litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana, said that he will rule on the GCCF's OPA compliance "in due course" after considering all the arguments submitted.

Even BP has voiced complaints about the GCCF. As plaintiff lawyers and Gulf Coast politicians claimed that Feinberg was too slow and stingy about payments, BP has said the GCCF has been overly generous.

Plaintiff and government attorneys successfully argued in federal court that Feinberg was not independent from BP, as the oil company had first stated when the GCCF was launched.

In February, Barbier ruled that Feinberg "cannot be considered 'neutral' or totally 'independent' of BP."

The GCCF is now required to inform claimants that they are associated with BP and that claimants should seek outside counsel for advice on submitting a claim.

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