Posts Tagged ‘GCCF’
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.
“We all knew we were experiencing health problems, but if you don’t have money and access to health care, it’s a win for BP,” said Carol Farmer, 52, of Milton. “No one knows about us, and BP can brush it under the carpet.”
The country remains largely unaware of health problems occurring to cleanup workers and others in the Gulf of Mexico and those that are sick, don’t know for sure the extent of their illness…or what they can do about it.
That’s a whole hell of a lot of not knowing, and that makes a whole lot of fear. Hoping to help, the National Institute of Health is doing a long-term study of health problems in the Gulf, especially focussed on the clean-up workers and at a recent workshop in Gulf Breeze, 100 or so people showed up to take part, including Carol Farmer. The goal of the workshops and community meetings is to enroll up to 55,000 of the 150000 cleanup workers. Individuals participating in the health screenings will be told of any health problems and referred to doctors or clinics who can treat them at low or no cost.
The goal of the study is to better determine how to handle oil spills in the future.
That way, hopefully, there will be fewer problems such as:
Eddie Casanova 46, of Fort Walton Beach, said the whole left side of his body has rashes and bumps that came up after he began working the oil spill on Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens, Johnson Beach and Pensacola Naval Air Station in 2010 and 2011.
Charles Everhart, 60, was on one of the first cleanup teams to hit the beaches in the summer of 2010 when the air was full of noxious fumes from the oil washing in from the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, he’s been having eye, respiratory and throat problems, “I used to jog three miles a day,” he said. “Now, I can’t run a block without huffing and puffing.”
Many others in the crowd who worried about immediate health problems…problems they say are being dismissed by doctors or left untreated because they can’t afford medical treatment or don’t have insurance…
Yes, money…again, money…always, money…
Money’s the reason BP won’t entertain too much discussion about health problems as it might open their company up to litigation or liability, and money’s likely the reason why Feinberg, unlike his fund for Agent Orange and 9-11, is demanding proof of causality in order to make a health claim against the GCCF, something very, very difficult to do…
But, not everybody is dealing with so many worries as BP CEO, Bob Dudley reports:
“BP added exploration prospects equivalent to an area the size of Italy, an unlikely outcome given the firm’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. ‘One of the surprises is that I thought we would have a more difficult time taking on exploration roles,’ the American said. It’s been the best year in 30 years for increasing exploration acreage for BP’, he added…”
BP and Bob Dudley crow away about how they’re back in business, making big profits, expanding…while many of the people their spill hurt, or made sick are still in the dark waiting…wondering…unable to afford medical treatment or the peace of mind contained in knowing when it will also be their time to finally get their lives back…
You know, just like Bob.
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.
Two days ago, Carl Barbier, the federal judge overseeing the Deepwater Horizon litigation decided that a gang of lawyers, so named the plaintiff steering committee, should benefit from a reimbursement fund, designed to pay them for the money they’re spending to sue BP on behalf of their clients. One of the many problems with this decision is this fund will not be paid for by British Petroleum, the originators of this whole oil spill catastraphuk, but from a 6% deduction from people who’ve settled, including claimants who went through Ken Feinberg’s GCCF, including claimants who didn’t even use the fucking lawyers.
Barbier reasoned the work of the plaintiff’s attorneys had been to the benefit of all claimants involved in the second catatraphuk to hit the Gulf, the aforementioned GCCF.
Barbier then wrote these deductions should be taken from all GCCF claims paid on or before November 7th…otherwise known as two months ago.
In response, Feinberg promptly suspended all GCCF payments until he got an explanation of just how the hell he was supposed to accomplish deductions from payments paid almost two months ago.
Judge Barbier was reportedly then informed that November 7th occurred the aforementioned two months ago, to which he promptly cursed his aides, turned red and hid in the bathroom until coaxed out by those same, aforementioned aides.
At this point, he then spoke to Feinberg on the phone and said he was just kidding about the aforementioned date of November 7th and what he meant to say was that 6% should be deducted from all claims paid on or after December 30th.
Feinberg then reportedly laughed aloud, and thanked Barbier profusely for stepping up and making such an ass out of himself, thus taking some of the heat off the “neutral” arbitrator and his client, British Petroleum.
And then Feinberg resumed payments from the GCCF…paltry as they may be.
So there you have it.
This update has been brought to you by Disgusted Inc.
Read the article:
Oh…and if you haven’t read this great article on the whole Barbier ruling and all the politics behind it…do yourself a favor and check out Slabbed for all the background on the lawyers and politicans influencing Barbier’s decision…’tis required reading:
Have a nice day.
Is it me? Did I do something wrong?
Did I not give you enough space, enough time with your law books or enough time with your friends?
Did I not make you feel appreciated or understood?
God, I thought what we had was special…
Why it seems like only yesterday you sent me that first signal…when you declared Ken Feinberg could no longer call himself neutral, that he was in fact a hybrid entity of BP and must identify to claimants as such…or even later, you know, when you denied British Petroleum’s appeal and ruled that people could sue BP for punitive damages as a result of the oil spill…
Yes, that one had cemented it, at least for me…I thought we had, you know, “a thing…”
So, over and over on this site I praised your accomplishments, your fair and impartial process, your good common sense and snappy neck-wear, but then, then you did this:
What the fuck, Carl?
That’s the kind of thing that makes a blogger feel really unappreciated Carl, makes me feel really goddamned invisible. No, not boiling pet rabbits on the stove or anything, but Carl? It’s the kind of thing that reminds me judges are typically former lawyers and lawyers typically are…well, you’ve heard the jokes.
What were you thinking Carl?
You decided a fund should be set up to compensate a bunch of lawyers who form the plaintiff steering committee, and this fund would come from a 6% charge on any settlements coming out of this oil spill, including people who settle with the GCCF, even if they didn’t have lawyers to help them do so, and why, what was your reasoning for this?
You wrote: “The PSC (plaintiff steering committee) has strongly advocated on behalf of persons submitting claims to the GCCF, continuing to apply public and private pressure to improve the GCCF claims handling operations.”
I disagree Carl, or perhaps now I should just call you Mr. Barbier. It would seem a lot of that pressure came from the claimants themselves, and from the politicians and the Justice Department…and hey, what about me? I’ve been writing about this bullshit for months, do I get a cut now too?
Oh, and you also decided any settlements with the government get a 4% charge, you know, because the government deserves a discount, what with all the fine monitoring they’ve done of the oil companies and the clean-up in general…and this money, it could have been used on coastal restoration instead of restoring the bank accounts of another bunch of lawyers.
Turns out you didn’t just piss me off with this ruling either…British Petroleum ain’t too happy either…their Public Relations department no doubt would like all to believe this charitable oil company finds it a disgrace that your court would take money from the pockets of claimants, the same claimants British Petroleum has been trying so hard to make whole…though in reality, BP probably wants to know why they have to pay the lawyers who are trying to sue them.
I understand you’re trying to say this is no big deal, that you haven’t actually declared this money should be paid to the attorneys, just that a fund should be created to pay them if you deem it necessary later on down the road but Carl? I don’t care if you’re a judge or not, you can’t have it both ways…that level of arrogance is reserved for someone like Bobby Jindal who saw fit to have his own attorney in the steering committee while his Attorney General stayed out of it, something that has resulted in bit of a conflict, an embarrassment, a public disagreement…and maybe you’d call that a break-up gift Carl, that while so rudely kicking me to the curb, you set the stage to give me a laugh at Jindal’s expense but sorry, that just ain’t enough…especially when as a result of your shenanigans, this happens:
Brilliant Carl…absolutely brilliant.
Now, not only have you decreed that claimants the GCCF paid on or after November 7th have to give up 6%, thousands of claims will now be held up entirely until you decide to clarify this cluster bomb you dropped on the Gulf Coast, on people, Carl…people and businesses forced to wait and endure hardship even longer because you were so casually flirting at the bar with the plaintiff steering committee…
You see, Mr. Barbier?
Not only did you hurt what I thought we had, but when you pulled it our of your pants, you hurt thousands…
And just in case you should read this…just in case you think that maybe I haven’t shown the proper amount of respect to your station and your court of law…well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble Carl, but when it comes to that respect?
I faked it every time.
Read the article:
Have a nice day.