LSU law chancellor will pick judges for oil spill fund appeals

By Alejandro de los Rios | Mar 29, 2011


NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Kenneth Feinberg has appointed Louisiana State University law professor Jack Weiss to pick a group of judges who will hear "limited appeals" on claims denied by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

"I canvassed the Gulf region in an attempt to find an individual who would bring unquestioned credibility, integrity and sound judgment to the process of selecting the appeals judges," Feinberg said in a statement.

"I am confident that I have chosen the right person for the job."

Weiss, a New Orleans native, has served as the chancellor of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge for the past four years.

The press release stated that Weiss requested his compensation be donated to the Louisiana State University Foundation to help fund scholarships at the LSU Law Center.

Weiss' appointment comes as several parties in the BP oil spill litigation have criticized Feinberg and the GCCF.

Last week, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said Alabama residents have been "reduced to begging for handouts from an organization [the GCCF] ... whose primary missions seems to be turning them down."

In February, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and Governor Bobby Jindal filed a memo criticizing the GCCF with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation.

The memo criticized the GCCF for allegedly failing to comply with the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and that claimants should not be required to relinquish their right to sue BP in exchange for a final payment.

The Louisiana legislature also expressed concern with the GCCF and has formed a special committee to oversee the claims process.

In Florida state court, a marine salvage company filed a lawsuit against Feinberg and the GCCF alleging they committed negligence and fraud in the claims process.

Attorneys for Feinberg have fired back against critics, stating the GCCF is "substantially exceeding" OPA's mandates.

On the flip side, BP has criticized Feinberg and the GCCF for handing out payments that are too high and that there "is no credible support for adopting an artificially high future loss."

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