When Judge Barbier of the US District Court ordered Feinberg last week to finally, start being honest with people and stop referring to himself and the GCCF as neutral or independent of British Petroleum, he opened a very significant door.
And today is the day to kick that door down.
Barbier has asked attorneys to file briefs on the claim fund’s compliance with the Oil Pollution Act and among the items that could be settled is the legality of the no-sue clause.
To receive a payment, 86,000 claimants have waived their and their family’s right to sue British Petroleum and a hundred other companies for the damage incurred by the oil spill. Attorneys argue this was done by many under financial duress. Some might even argue the whole process has been one big game of coercion.
When Feinberg’s GCCF couldn’t follow through on their own timetables, leaving people in financial limbo as they waited for compensation from the fund, all the while their bills continued to pile up, their mortgages came due and BP started canceling cleanup contracts while their pre-spill jobs were still unavailable…well, of course many people on the Gulf Coast were feeling the financial punch, not to mention the many people who settled for quick pays simply because they’d had it with the GCCF’s arbitrary changes in the rules, their delay tactics and the varying answers from each and every GCCF adjuster…even if accepting a quick pay was to their own disadvantage in the long run.
A ruling from Barbier could open the whole thing up again for the people who should desire to get back into the fray, get a lawyer and try to get what they deserve. And really, Feinberg has nobody to blame for this but himself and his own incompetence in the way he handled the escrow account, a method which left one law professor from Hofstra University to say Feinberg acted “misleadingly, at best.”
British Petroleum, in an e-mailed statement about the February 11th deadline to file briefs said: “We do not believe that there is any basis to undo or challenge the settlements that have been concluded.”
Ken Feinberg, when contacted said: chirp…chirp…chirp…chirp…chirp…
Kevin Dean, an attorney with the Plaintiff’s firm Montley Rice said: “My firm believes that clients were forced financially to take an ill-advised settlement, and that that’s a violation of the Oil Pollution Act.”
So, today’s the day, and now that Judge Barbier has taken over jurisdiction of the Claims Process, let’s see what he has to say…
Have a nice day.