A Night at the Opera…

No oil on you, big guy...

So how was your New Year’s Eve?

For Ken Feinberg it was a splendid night at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House where he rubbed shoulders with wealth and celebrity, including Natalie Portman, J Christopher Flowers, Donald Tober and Eric Bogosian. The opera, Verdi’s “La Traviata” was reportedly a tremendous success and enjoyed by all.

Meanwhile…

Dan Ford, owner of Gulf Coast Tire and Automotive received notification that his claim was denied. Initially, he received $5000 dollars from BP for the months of June, July and August but when Feinberg took over the claims process, Ward stopped receiving payments. He went to his local claims office eight times over a three month period and was told each time his check would be ready within a week, until December 10th when he got a letter in the mail stating his claim had been denied.

“The frustrating part about it is they won’t give you any information,” Ward said. “They won’t tell you who is handling your claim. You can’t talk to a live individual. They just kept me in limbo for three months, total, and finally they said my claim was denied. I want to know why the claim was denied. Everything I gave them was actual financial data,” he added. “It was backed by our sales taxes. It was backed by our profit and loss statements…I’m a viable business. I’m 100 percent as far as that goes.”

Ward has continued trying to get a response, but all he’s received since is a form letter stating he could refile for an interim payment or a final payment. “I’m just wondering ‘what in the hell? Am I in the Twilight Zone?’ ” he said. “I’m just dumbfounded. I’ve got it all down on paper, my losses. I’ve got it to the penny.”

Meanwhile…

Plaintiff lawyers in a multi-district litigation have filed a motion urging US District Judge Carl Barbier to supervise public comments made by Feinberg, the neutral arbitrator, seeking “to ensure that communications with putative classmembers[sic] are neither confusing nor misleading…by all appearances,” the motion states, “Mr. Feinberg … seems indistinguishable from a defense attorney attempting to settle cases on behalf of BP.”

Meanwhile…

The mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama, Anthony Kennon still has questions about how closely Feinberg and BP may be linked, “He can proclaim independence as much as he wants,” said Kennon, whose community was hard hit by the oil spill. “The only thing that will show true independence is if he makes those people whole who were harmed by the oil spill. We have not been made whole by a long shot.”

Now, whereas typically I would not try to piss on somebody’s good time, especially not on New Year’s Eve, but when the entire claims process Feinberg is being paid $850,000 dollars a month to oversee has become such a catastraphuk of mis-communication, denied claims, paltry payouts and a general lack of transparency in all things involved, and this has in turn left people across the Gulf Coast going bankrupt, losing businesses, homes and intact families…well hell, even I might be inclined to question the sensitivity of a splendid night at the opera, nicely splashed across the society pages of the New York newspapers.

At the very least, maybe he could have invited Mr. Ford along to La Traviata, so during the intermission he could have explained why the GCCF denied his claim, especially when considering for the months of June, July and August, BP said yes.

And along those same lines…is Obama still enjoying his vacation in Hawaii?

Have a nice day.

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3 thoughts on “A Night at the Opera…

  1. Good for Ken Feinberg, it seems that this duck’s feathers have super protected down. No sign of oil or the BP stains on him.
    The Washington Post, Fortune, Time and others claim Mr. Feinberg is one of the 100 most influential people in US politics.
    Why should he worry, his friend and colleague at NYU Law school just handed him a bill of fair proclaiming Mr. Feinberg free of any influence from BP or the President. Professor Stephen Gillers was gracious enough to offer an unbiased look at the GCCf Administrator’s handling of the claims process, and for the small fee of $1,400.00* an hour penned a astute version of the cannon of ethics governing the ability of lawyers to have one client pay for the service offered to the party that is suing them, without being affected by any amount of influence or cash.
    I offered peofessor Gillers an opportunity to explain the reasoning behind the , “Good Job Brownie, ” letter of love, and he replied with the following. It is legal speak so remember 50% is jargon, 40% bullshit and 10% facts. just don’t ever mistake the facts for the truth and you will understand legal speak.
    ===============================================
    Thanks for your email. Here is the explanation. If you read my letter, which I think is now public, you will see that I was asked to address whether Mr. Feinberg’s status as a lawyer created conflict of interest problems or other issues under the governing rules for lawyers. That’s what I did. The conflict rules in particular inform the meaning of independence (among other things) in the work of lawyers.

    You are using “independent” in an entirely different sense – not a legal sense but a motivational sense. You are saying that because (let us assume) that BP can fire Mr. Feinberg or that he would resign if it sought to do so, he is not independent.

    But your use of the word is different from mine. It asks whether a person can be trusted to be objective when in some way he is dependent on another who may have an interest that may influence his decision.

    In the law governing lawyers, the rules allow a lawyer to accept payment from one person to represent a client so long as the lawyer acts for the interests of the client and not the source of the funds. So a father can pay a lawyer to represent a son. The son is the client and we trust the lawyer’s independence even though the father can stop paying the bills and even though the father may wish the lawyer to pursue a different strategy in the work for the son.

    In the same way, here, Mr. Feinberg can accept payment from BP to be Administrator of the GCCF, to help BP fulfill its obligations under the law.

    Similarly, we can say that a general counsel of a company may not be able to give the company independent advice because his or her job and income are dependent on keeping the officers and board happy and if their interests may diverge from those of the company, it may prevent the general counsel from reaching a conclusion the officers or board do not like.

    Indeed, the way you use the word, you can say that I’m not independent of BP or the Facility or Mr. Feinberg because BP is paying me through the Facility.

    Outside law, you might say that a newspaper cannot be independent in writing stories about its biggest advertiser.

    You can use “independent” in all these different circumstances. My opinion addressed whether Mr. Feinberg was independent within the constraints of those rules and he is, just as the lawyers in the other situations I have described are trusted to be independent.

    From: brucek@thesport4x4.info [mailto:brucek@thesport4x4.info]
    Sent: Monday, January 03, 2011 10:56 AM
    To: Gillers, Stephen
    Subject: Your reputation is important.

    I would apologize for the length of my post, except that it is just that damn good.

    I believe that Ken Feinberg is a man who is facing an internal struggle with just how much damage he can inflict while claiming to be a fair and just Arbiter.

    What a couple of Mooks!!!!!

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