Archive for the ‘Escrow Account’ Category
Did you hear the one about the tremendous success of the GCCF? About how much money it paid out? About all the good it did? About how it barely made a mistake, didn’t low-ball claims, didn’t deny any legitimate claims and was certainly more generous than any court?
Well, I’m sure Ken Feinberg would love to tell you about it, and he soon will…
“I’m going to step back and return to teaching, write a book about BP and compensation and watch with great interest what transpires going forward in New Orleans…this has been a rollercoaster — a very challenging, very successful program…”
Right…a successful program, says you.
George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fishermen however, had a different take on the experience, “The GCCF sucked…”
Yeah, that’s the short answer.
The long answer is Feinberg didn’t live up to his promises, led a faulty program that upset thousands, paid out easy, quick payments quickly, took forever with longer more complex claims and when it came to interim claims that didn’t require the claimant to waive his or her right or their families right to sue British Petroleum, the process slowed to a crawl and when he did make offers on interim claims, very often he included a final claims offer too, which only added to the pressure for cash strapped claimants to take the larger sum and go away.
Bluntly put: like BP, who appear to believe that by merely claiming (repeatedly) how hard they’ve worked to make things right in the Gulf, that this will somehow make their assertion true, Feinberg seems to think that the GCCF will be seen as a success, simply because he says it has, repeatedly. Well, fine…Ken can speak to success all he likes, but it doesn’t change the opinion of far too many along the Gulf Coast, that when it came to the GCCF, It was not their interests Ken had in mind…nope, no way.
Feinberg, like BP was just one more out of touch entity working the PR for a profit margin, British Petroleum’s eventual profit margin…claimants be damned.
Case in point – from Boothville, just north of Venice:
“Brooke Andry is still waiting for a deal, as her business sags, “When the fishing industry bottoms out, the lodging business is gone,” said Andry, who owns the Kingfish Lodges and Venice Palms Lodge. Andry said she filed claims with Feinberg, but has seen no action. “I think Feinberg and his group did a lot of talking and not a lot of action,” Andry said. When she met with Feinberg’s representatives, she was required to bring extensive documentation of her losses, but Feinberg’s team was never prepared. “They’d just put us off and say ‘We’ll see you in another 30 days,’” she said.”
And Brooke Andry is not alone, not by a long shot.
No, this program has not been a success.
Good Lord, for another example of Feinberg’s departure from Gulf reality, just look no further than his handling of health claims:
Originally, Feinberg denied anyone had made health claims, then it turned out 200 claims had been made but the GCCF denied every one of them. In the compensation funds Feinberg ran in regard to Agent Orange or 9-11, when it came to health claims all one had to do was show symptoms and proximity, but when it came to the GCCF, suddenly Ken wanted proof of causality to even consider the claim. So you combine this rigid causality factor with 200 reported denials of claimants who tried, and I wonder how many people, sick people, didn’t even bother to file. Yet now, with the settlement, BP…the company Feinberg was going to be more willing, more flexible and more generous than, British Petroleum has included a component to pay health claims and yes, causality is still being required, the parameters of which have not yet been revealed, but at the same time there is now a process, a willingness and at least the promise of an openness in helping address the health of the Gulf Coast, especially for first responders and cleanup workers.
This uncapped portion of the health settlement includes compensation for specified physical complaints, medical consultations for the next twenty-one years, the address of later manifested conditions and also funding for a Gulf Coast Region Health Outreach Program.
This all, coming from British Petroleum…not the overly generous, overly successful, overly trumpeting Ken Feinberg.
No, Ken just denied the claims…
Take the example of the Maurer household, also in Boothville:
Nicole Maurer said she’d developed cysts on her body since the leak, while her fisherman husband has suffered bleeding from his ear and nose since he did cleanup work. They also believe their daughter’s asthma has gotten worse, “I’m so tired of being sick,” she said.
The health problems are still being studied…and the span of time BP is willing to take into consideration is encouraging because the studies being done, for example, by the National Institute of Health, are all in their early stages…yet Feinberg and his “successful” program merely seemed to ask: what health problems?
Yeah…not that BP is the final coming of the white knight in all this…
I mean, I can’t be the only person who wonders if Feinberg’s role in the GCCF was essentially to get as many claimants out of the way, and as cheaply as possible, thus paving the way for BP to then settle with those plaintiffs who told Ken to “piss off,” all still without having to go outside of the $20 billion dollar escrow fund.
Wink, wink…nudge, nudge…
Maybe Feinberg can write about that in his book…it would certainly be more interesting than what will probably be a masturbatory tome of self congratulation.
Better yet, Feinberg can perhaps do some reflection, and write the book he needs to write:
A two to three hundred page apology.
Have a nice day.
Here comes the Bob:
“From the beginning, BP stepped up to meet our obligations to the communities in the Gulf Coast region, and we’ve worked hard to deliver on that commitment for nearly two years,” said Bob Dudley, BP’s CEO, in a statement issued Friday night. “The proposed settlement represents significant progress toward resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast.”
And collectively, four states threw up their hands in cheers.
Thank you’s, in unison, were heard echoing throughout Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida…and if one were to sit down by the Mississippi river, become very still, very quiet…right at dusk, that pristine moment where all is a finer shade of grey, not quite daytime and not yet the night, one could focus, listening, and maybe even hear a single brown pelican gliding above the silent, always flowing river as it opens its beak and calls: “Fuck you! Fuck you!”
And that would be right about the time I stood up from those steps heading down to said river, off the Moonwalk near Jackson Square, where I take another strong sip from the strong vodka-tonic I got walking from Flanagan’s Pub and say out loud, to nobody in particlar, “Jesus Christ, I don’t care how many times you BP guys in all your varying titles go on and on about how you are meeting your responsibilities to the Gulf…just cause you say it, and say it all the fucking time, this don’t make it true…”
So, did you hear the one about the fair and equitable settlement yet?
I’m sure you have, but if you haven’t, I’m sure Bob Dudley and any number of “Official BP Spokesperson”(s) would love to tell you all about it. They’d love you to believe quotes like Bob’s above too…but really, what they would love more than anything else is for you all, you know, to go away and let them get back to their business of record profits and record safety violations…after all, taking risks to make profit is what British petroleum does best…so…settled…settlement…everybody’s wealthy now…everybody’s happy…right right?
$7.8 billion dollars to individual claimants in the lawsuit…settled, we’re all good…right right?
Buy our stock and give us more drilling rights…yes?
Um…not so fast, Bob.
Sure, $7.8 billion dollars seems like a lot of money and all, like one big mea culpa, except that this money is coming from that $20 billion dollar escrow fund you already pledged over a year and a half ago, and as mentioned in this good Propublica article there be a number of problems with this, or at least some questions that need answering, such as:
The lawsuits were filed in Carl Barbier’s court mostly by people who felt they weren’t getting enough money from Feinberg’s GCCF, and now that the settlement will be paid from this same fund, which has only a little more than half left in it, how much are the plaintiffs going to receive, and what happens if that fund runs dry, $7.8 billion dollar estimate or not?
And for that mater, what happens to the people who were still working on claims with Feinberg?
And, tell me again, Bob, how is it fucking fair that people who sued because they were dissatisfied with this fund now wind up back in it, only this time with lawyers getting a percentage…and as for the new overseers of the disbursements, the one’s who are promising a new level of generosity…hmm, where did we hear that before?
Oh that’s right, Feinberg once said that when he took over the disbursements from BP, right before he pissed off everybody with all his “generous” offers.
Oh, and those lawyers from the PSC…
How influenced were they to settle with Bob and BP because of the big fat fees they were looking at? Really Bob? The PSC never took that into consideration their fees at all? You sure? The PSC was only serving the interests of their clients you say…uh-huh and the other attorney, Ken Feinberg was only being neutral…right? But hey, I’m sure these are all details…just more shit for lawyers to work out amongst themselves, locked in a room while the plaintiffs stand around outside wondering from which way they’re going to get screwed this time.
Yes screwed, because of this settlement… for example, the plaintiffs just lost their chance at punitive damages.
As Greg Palast writes in Truthout:
“I was stunned that there is no provision, as expected, for a punishment fee to by paid by BP for it’s willful negligence. In the Exxon Valdez trial, a jury awarded us $5 billion in punitives – and BP’s action, and the damage caused in the Gulf, is far, far worse. BP now has to pay no more than proven damages. It’s like telling a bank robber, “Hey, just put back the money in the vault and all’s forgiven.”
And what else did BP do, or didn’t do that very well could have entitled plaintiffs to punitive damages?
BP didn’t have emergency oil spill containment equipment at the ready as they so promised, in writing and under oath. And as a condition of drilling the Macondo Well, they were to have any oil from a blowout contained within five hours, but it took them five days just to get equipment in place. BP also mixed nitrogen into the cement which capped the well, something already proven to fail and yes, this saved them money, but it also contributed to the deaths of eleven men and this entire catastraphuk…
But hey! No punitive damages, because the Plaintiff Steering Committee settled with British Petroleum…and just like BP, the PSC only had the Gulf Coast’s interests in mind.
And now that we’re all settled, we should just go away now…go watch American Glee X Factor, starring the Voice…right right?
Hmm, but you know what else is details…
Tar balls are still coming into shore. Dolphins are still dying. Experts say we won’t know the extent of the damages for years to come.
And, as a result of this settlement, British Petroleum stocks rose three percent and it’s predicted to quickly rise another five percent more and with all this new profit, I just gotta ask, how much more money did that just make Tony Hayward? Or you, Bob…how much more money did that just make for you?
Was it more than some of the plaintiffs got?
Was it as much as the attorney fees the members of the Plaintiff Steering Committee are going to see as a result of this settlement?
Well…as you said Bob, from the beginning, BP has done all they can to step on up and meet your obligations. Yeah, but your obligations to who?
Answer me that…
Bob, you can go ahead and repeat your mantra about all the good you’ve done in the Gulf, ever since you did all that bad…go ahead, repeat it until there’s no one left to listen…fine. Knock yourself out. I’ll still be down by the river listening for the pelicans, listening to what they have to say and nodding my head in agreement: Fuck you.
Have a nice day.
In an article published online last evening, David Hammer of the Times-Picayune called into question whether over 50,000 plaintiffs attempting to sue BP in the trial beginning February 27th would have their suits rendered ineligible for compensation because they didn’t try to get money from Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility first.
“The “presentment” issue could endanger 60 percent of them (court claims). In August, Barbier ruled that claims under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 would have to meet presentment requirements – to seek redress from BP or its designee, Feinberg – to be eligible for compensation.”
Over 50,000 claims potentially knocked out before we even get started? Wait a minute, don’t these 50,000 plaintiffs have attorneys from the Plaintiff Steering Committee? Let’s assume more than a few of them do. Okay then, so what happens if all 50,000 of these legal claims are thrown out of court by Judge Barbier, over half of all the private legal claims? On what basis did the members of the Plaintiff Steering Committee not advise their clients to go ahead and file with Feinberg first, just to get it out of the way? Hell, the claims wouldn’t have even had to be all that detailed, right?
Kind of a legal technicality sort of thing?
“Dear Ken, please send me fourteen dollars for lost wages, contracts, time, illness, etc…”
And then when Ken and the GCCF offers a nickel, the plaintiff turns him down and all done!
Legal requirement satisfied! On to the MDL!
Okay…well how about one more small question:
If 50,000 plus claimants get tossed out, this would seem to indicate that the Plaintiff Steering Committee could have been doing a much better job of steering the plaintiffs, so then shouldn’t they be forced to turn down the 6 percent that Feinberg is now holding back from claimants who actually do settle with the GCCF, all $650,000 dollars of it so far?
Because if you’re getting that 6% for claimants indirectly benefitting from your legal expertise and your legal expertise kinda blows, it would seem they should get their indirect money back…
It’s a thought.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
Heading out to New York City for a little while…gotta go hear some music and words, see some art and weather permitting (which in this winter of warmth seems quite possible) do a whole lot of wandering…
Maybe I’ll even pay a visit to a certain attorney at Feinberg Rozen, LLP, tell him in person what a great job he’s been doing along the Gulf Coast.
Pearl Jam – I Believe in Miracles (Ramones cover) Live at Madison Square Garden
Have a nice week.
So, if British Petroleum is so concerned about making things right, if the economy is on the mend, the environment a-ok…in short, if everything in the Gulf is so good British Petroleum could really leave any time, but won’t, because they are just that committed and that benevolent of a company, then why all the trouble at these schools?
Trouble such as:
Kids coming to class in dirty school uniforms and trying to take showers without others noticing because their parents lost their jobs and are living in homes with no electricity or running water.
Kids not getting the medication they need for ADD and other ailments, leading to kids acting out in class and fights.
Kids missing classes to stay home and take care of their siblings while parents are out looking for work or trying to keep their jobs.
Kids suffering from increased trauma as a result of increased substance abuse and domestic violence in the home.
Oh, and there’s more:
According to a study by the University of South Alabama last spring, 35 percent of the students at Bryant High School in Irvington reported being significantly and personally traumatized by the oil spill. A third of them said they were very concerned because the spill had caused their parents to lose jobs. The number of students getting in trouble at Alba Middle School in Bayou La Batre had doubled in a year, according to the study, and was up by 20 percent at Bryant.
“There are tons of stories,” said Paige Rucker, state director of Project Rebound, which, in tandem with AltaPointe Health Systems, has 21 counselors on a recovery team concentrating on south Mobile County. “You take a community that was already suffering, with Hurricane Katrina and the economy, and you layer the oil spill on top of it.” With that “trifecta,” she said, the community is more than hurting. “It’s on life support.”
Claims money is running out. The jobs haven’t come back. Utility bills are going unpaid. The foot pantry shelves are emptying out and the use of mental health services is on the rise.
This is almost two years after the spill.
Making things right…for who? British Petroleum and their connected politicians…
As Iris Cross says in one of BP’s latest commercials:
“And the economy is showing progress, with many areas on the Gulf Coast having their best tourism season in years. I was born here, I’m still here and so is BP. We’re committed to the Gulf, for everyone who loves it and everyone who calls it home…”
Yeah, well, that’s just wonderful Iris, BP, but how about the kids at schools in south Mobile County? How about you take a little time from your ad campaigns and commit yourselves to these kids and their families?
You know, because you care enough to not have the effects of your spill span across multiple generations.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.
The headlines, they be a coming…fast and furious out of the Gulf these days, especially in regard to pending litigation when it comes to that pesky MDL…
Back on December 28th, Judge Carl Barbier issued a ruling which required 4% of any settlement with BP or the GCCF to be deposited into a fund, which would then be used to pay attorneys in the plaintiff steering committee. This ruling set off a firestorm of complaints…from claimants involved with the GCCF to politicians concerned about the impact on coastal recovery funds to Louisiana’s very own Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell, who quickly staked out this position regarding said ruling:
“…Setting aside 4 percent of legal settlements could put money for the state’s environmental and economic recovery at risk, forcing the state to dip into its treasury to meet federal match requirements for environmental restoration projects. He also argued that diverting money from ecological projects to pay attorneys could violate federal environmental laws. He further said that forcing the state to work through the plaintiffs committee trampled on state sovereignty and could violate Louisiana’s ban on paying contingency fees to outside attorneys…”
But…faster than one can say personal integrity, Caldwell recently switched positions this past Tuesday, saying he now:
“…would support holding back 4 percent of state financial recoveries from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster to fund the work of the committee of plaintiff attorneys at the helm of the litigation.”
And though his office would give no official explanation for why he switched, it has been noted that now…
“Caldwell will also assume a new higher-profile role in the consolidated litigation over the oil spill, and will join Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange as co-coordinating counsel for state interests.
Nice…is it just me, or is there an undeclared competition occurring in the Gulf between the various oil companies, judges, politicians, governmental agencies, attorneys and Feinbergs to see who can be the most vilified? Or are they just taking turns at this? Seems so…
Anywhoo, the headlines keep coming…
Morgan Stanley said today that British Petroleum may reach a settlement with United States for as much as $25 billion dollars from the Deepwater Horizon catastraphuk. This settlement would include civil charges, criminal penalties and fines under the Clean Water Act. On February 7th, BP will announce its fourth quarter profits and it is expected the settlement will occur shortly thereafter…yes, yes, yes…both British Petroleum and the Department of Justice appear to be weighing the odds of actually going to court and the risks involved, figuring that a quick settlement may be the safest bet…for them.
And still more…
Back at the MDL, Judge Barbier, continuing to make things up as he goes, has now decided the people settling with the GCCF will not have to set aside 6% of their settlement for the plaintiff steering committee fund. Originally, Barbier felt that this street gang of politically connected attorneys had done so much to help Feinberg’s GCCF process, they deserved a cut of the action, but apparently he took another look and realized that really, they hadn’t done shit, so they’re out of the claimants pockets…unless, the claimant was going for the best of both worlds by filing short forms in the legal process while also exploring their settlement options with the GCCF…they still gotta pay that 6%, even if they ultimately decide to take an offer from Feinberg.
But…stay tuned until next week to see if Barbier changes his mind again…
It could, and probably will happen…
Ahh….such is life in the Gulf…
Have a nice day.
A new study from the University of California-Davis shows a combination of sunlight and oil exposure can cause the “physical disintegration” of fish embryos. The process, called phototoxicity, was documented in the aftermath of the 2007 Cusco Busan spill which occurred when a tanker hit the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco to Oakland.
From the La Times:
“This phenomenon had been observed in the laboratory, but had never been observed in the field, and there were even some skeptics out there wondering if this was just a phenomenon that people would see under lab conditions,” said Gary Cherr, director of the Bodega Marine lab. “One of the real take-home messages from our study was: yes, in fact, it definitely happens in the real world.”
As Stuart Smith points out, the study echoes countless observations from fishermen around the Gulf about depleted catches.
And obviously, if this did/is occurring in the Gulf, it will take that much longer for fisheries and the seafood industry to rebound.
So, all that being said…here’s what really pisses me off about this.
In a perfect world, we would see a simple reaction to the news of such a study:
British Petroleum, alarmed for the welfare of the fishing industry in the Gulf Coast would hire scientists, free and clear from any restrictions of reporting and publication who would then work with government scientists operating free and clear of any political agendas to figure out if what’s described in this study is indeed occurring in the Gulf, and if so, immediately work together with input from the fishing industry to address this problem. In this refreshing climate, one that operates beyond political and litigious constraints and influence, the information would flow freely. The primary objective would be the protection and benefit of the environment, the people and seafood industries along the Gulf Coast, the same Gulf Coast which never asked for this fucking oil spill.
And because of this established, open climate, when the studies were released, they would be trusted.
Alas, this environment has never existed in the Gulf.
From day one, BP has operated on damage control while the government operated in the shadow of Bush’s disastrous response to Katrina, and the EPA, NOAA and FDA? Their functions have been utterly compromised by a decade of corporate and political influence and funding cuts.
The only truth to be had in the Gulf depends on which opinion you wish to adopt.
And none of this helps anybody but those who already have the resources, connections and influence to not need anymore help…and now this whole subjective line of shenanigans and bullshit is playing out in the MDL too…with double dipping attorneys, conflicts of interest and corporate bullying while the campaign contributions fly…
Fucking ridiculous…just read these:
So…here’s what you got:
Running this show in the Gulf are the same people who’s agendas caused the problems in the Gulf: British Petroleum and their continuing poor safety record, the government and their continuing poor monitoring of oil platforms, insufficient testing of seafood, and willingness to let entire ecosystems disappear in the name of profit and/or deregulation.
Getting screwed in the Gulf: that would continue to be claimants involved with the GCCF, fishermen with little to catch being told by television commercials how well they’re doing, and frankly, the rest of the people in the Gulf Coast left to wonder if they’re going to get sick from contaminants, from seafood, and from Corexit…all because they are at the mercy of agendas they and their families don’t factor into.
And now, that legal system designed to be the fail safe, the protector, the last stop…it too shows signs of being influenced by the same bullshit agendas that have been played out across four states for over twenty months.
Swear to God, It’s almost enough to make one think that those fish embryos had it easy…
Their only agenda was death and dying.
Have a nice day.