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.