For someone who claims his GCCF process has been “vindicated,” Ken Feinberg is really going through the legal maneuvers to make sure Jim Hood, Attorney General of Mississippi, can’t get a look behind his curtain.
The lawsuit, originally filed in Hinds County Chancery Court, came when Mr. Hood asked Feinberg to turn over the records of BP oil spill related claims by workers and business owners who gave Hood permission to review their personal financial information.
Feinberg said no, so Jim Hood filed suit. Then Feinberg said he wanted the case removed to Federal Court because the spill happened on the Outer Continental Shelf.
It certainly had nothing to do with the idea Ken didn’t want the case to be heard by a Mississippi Judge, presiding over Mississippi people upset about a spill affecting their Mississippi lives, beaches and businesses, nor how Hood was primarily concerned that Feinberg had violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act.
Why, that would be ridiculous…Feinberg’s just trying to follow the law.
And now, not content to stall this lawsuit by moving it to a potentially kinder judge in Federal Court, he now wants the case stayed:
“Feinberg, the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, says all proceedings should be delayed until it is decided if Hood’s lawsuit should be transferred to the BP oil spill multi-district litigation in New Orleans, “this court should stay this case pending the (Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation’s) decision whether to transfer it to MDL 2179 so as to prevent the needless waste of time and resources of the parties and the court and to avoid potentially inconsistent rulings.”
Needless waste of time and resources?
Well, Ken might know something about that…ask claimants still waiting for payment along the Gulf Coast. Ask people who had to wait for their interim payments while Feinberg worked first on claims more beneficial to his boss, British Petroleum, the quick claims, the final claims, that required claimants to waive their rights to sue BP.
This all continues to be about transparency. Ken Feinberg has consistently said he understands the GCCF should be more transparent, and he has consistently done little to nothing about it. So when a group of claimants gives permission to the Mississippi Attorney General to look at their claims, at their personal financial information to ensure everything is on the up and up, Feinberg again errs on the side of being opaque, and then he stalls.
And then he stalls some more. And then he requests a stay.
Last year, I was hanging out at MRB’s on St. Phillip, primarily because it was one of the few bars I could find in New Orleans that had hockey on their several televisions, but also ’cause back when I lived round town, few years back I was good friends with one of the bartenders, the bar I worked at being only two blocks away…my year break from social work and all that…time off, refresh, have many drinks while serving many drinks over many days and months and drinks, and did I mention…drinks?
Anyways…once a social worker, always a social worker and it don’t matter if you’re taking a break or not, you pay attention to people and you look, at least I do, for signs exhibited by those around you indicating how their days are treating them…
And that night at MRB’s, I was watching the Detroit Red Wings get clobbered, made all the more amusing because the bartender was sporting a Red Wings t-shirt and truth be told, I was watching the people much as I was watching the game and I noticed a particular woman, hanging out, shooting pool. She was early thirties, but dressed like a school-girl, pale skin, goth black hair in pony-tails, short plaid skirt and bright red lipstick. The sexual suggestions were not suggestions at all, and she was not alone. She was attractive, if you’re into that kind of look, the Suicide Girl tattoo thing, but what I found most fascinating was who she was with. I’d say he was mid-fifties, rather large, stained shirt and drunk as fuck and it became apparent this wasn’t a one time hook-up between the two, it was something more regular, more familiar. The bar knew the guy and showed no reaction whatsoever to her volume, her arms wrapped round his neck, her hand occasionally dropped to his crotch and she addressed many by name, but while I drank my drinks and watched the game I did notice a glance my way, a smile framed by those red lips, her pitch black mascara round arched eyes and a suggestive leg draped over the pool table, showing a lotta skin and a lotta exhaled breaths, lost way too quickly. At one point she watched me watching and she leaned over the table to take a shot, cue stick in hands. Glancing behind she grinned, then flipped up the short plaid skirt to reveal her g-string…
I felt bad, especially as she went back to the greasier man to grab the cigarette he extended and a fresh drink…I didn’t know why for sure I felt bad, but I did. The whole thing just smacked of bad knowledge…soon to be made even worse when she slid over to me, cigarette extended and paused…
Obligingly, I flicked the lighter as she leaned in, and she inhaled, then exhaled, her larger eyes fixated briefly on mine as she said…”I hate my life. I want to die.”
When she said the words, her face went blank and her eyes, they just kinda emptied…and over a year later, I haven’t forgotten her. She was a kind of photograph, a reminder of the many faces desperation can undertake, and a reminder how as a social worker, sometimes there’s nothing you can do, especially when you don’t even know if its any of your business…the whole thing just kind of sucked, really…
So, the moral of the story?
Feinberg is fucking over a lot of people, even the oyster fishers he claims to really have an eye out for, showing that GCCF fire just burns on and on…
Ken Feinberg, in an article from yesterday’s Times-Picayune, reports the pace of payments by the GCCF have improved, sped up and are finally hitting their stride. In the article by David Hammer, it is reported the average amount of final payments have increased, as has the percentage of final payments paid, also, the GCCF has processed 95% of the 300,000 claims that were filed before the month of May.
All true…and if these were the only measuring sticks we had, we should all be so impressed.
Unfortunately, there’s more to this story:
Yes, the average of the final payments are up from $16,000 to $20,000 dollars and whereas yes, this is an improvement, is it enough to compensate for all damages past, present and future, making the people whole? I don’t know, how much did you make last year? How much did the people in the Gulf make last year? Was it more than $20,000 dollars, and considering we know some larger companies have received payments as high as ten million dollars, what do these large sums do to the average payment of the average fisherman, average tour guide, average restaurant worker…average anybody, that’s a question I’d like an answer too. How much are the specific payments? Unfortunately, these questions will remain unanswered, because Ken’s promises of greater transparency have never materialized…
Yes, the percentage of final payments continue to rise. He has paid 26% of the final payments that have been filed, course it is fourteen months after the oil began to spill, and many have yet to get back to work while very few are earning what they did before the Deepwater Horizon exploded. It would seem that congratulating Feinberg for the percentage of claims paid rising is akin to congratulating someone for doing what they were hired to do, what they’ve been paid handsomely to do, and in this particular case, ignoring the exceedingly long time it took to get there…and, how much further Ken still has to go…
Yes, the GCCF has processed 95% of the 300,000 claims made. Impressive, except that 40% of those were denials and due to a lack of transparency, we don’t know why and according to many of those denied, they don’t always quite understand why either. Also, a large percentage of those 300,000 claims were of the quick claims variety which stipulated no questions asked, individuals get $5,000 and businesses get $25,000 dollars or in other words, the simplest of claims to process. This means the majority of those claims still waiting to be processed are the most complex and time consuming. Do we congratulate the high school graduate for demonstrating a mastery of addition and subtraction?
So, Feinberg still has three quarters of the claims to pay, continues to pay what would seem a small amount to claimants and has processed the easiest claims first…but he’s hitting his stride…all while financial desperation remains, with thousand upon thousands of claims waiting.
And there’s more…as the article continues:
“Catholic Charities case managers say they haven’t seen too many of the 1,300 fishers who have reportedly taken full-review final settlements from Feinberg. They have, on the other hand, seen thousands who have been denied interim payments on a quarterly basis. Federal law requires Feinberg to pay for ongoing losses without forcing claimants to sign away their rights to sue. But he’s made only 16,000 such payments.
Tom Costanza of Catholic Charities said most of the interim payment offers are minuscule and are attached to final payment offers. Even if those final offers aren’t close to what the claimant requested, the prospect of another quarter without aid is often too much to bear. He said that 70 percent of the claimants who have turned to state-financed technical assistance advisers for help are still waiting for resolution. “I just can’t see how this is moving in the right direction,” Costanza said. The stalemate is most pronounced with subsistence claims, a crucial issue in the Gulf Coast’s fishing-centric Vietnamese communities.”
As has been the case since the GCCF’s methodology was put into place…the quick payments were done ASAP while the final payments were slowly worked on, but seemingly neglected for the most part in all this are the interim payments. The interim payments are the only claim one can file which does not require the claimant to waive their right to sue British Petroleum. As Tom Costanza says above, when miserly interim checks arrive to the claimant, also accompanied by a final offer…can we finally put to rest the idea that Ken and the GCCF aren’t trying to coerce as many as possible into signing away their legal rights? Because yes, it would certainly seem the message being sent to those filing interim claims is as follows: not only will you wait the longest, your checks will be quite small, but take a look at what you could have if you accept the final payment…all you gotta do is sign by the “X”.
Meanwhile, it remains quite obvious that many, many people continue to be upset with the GCCF process…hell, as recently as this past week, people continue to post comments on this blog expressing their dissatisfaction…but of course, Ken has his supporters as well, Mike Voisin, owner of a Motivatit Seafood is mostly pleased with Feinberg and the GCCF, “I think Ken’s gonna make it right,” Voisin said. “We have a responsible party that I believe is acting responsibly in this case. Will people fall through the cracks? Certainly. You have this many claims, it will overwhelm even Ken Feinberg…”
Okay, but what of those people who fall through the cracks? Of the the well over 100,000 people denied outright by the GCCF, how many of those claims might have been legitimate? How many of those were indeed claims that simply fell through the cracks?
Want to know how many should be allowed to so fall?
Yes, this is a very exacting amount, something that will be very difficult to do, but so what? Nobody on the Gulf Coast or beyond asked for the oil spill, therefore nobody should be left behind. Nobody. It isn’t like the escrow money is running out. By Ken’s own estimates, he’s still sitting on almost $16 billion dollars of the $20 billion allotted. Nobody should be left behind, because when someone falls through the cracks, this is what it looks like:
“The chief engineer aboard a supply boat that was near the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded, and whose company quickly began working for BP in the cleanup, claims he was pushed into accepting a settlement for debilitating oil spill-related illness before the extent of his injuries was known.
Clayton Matherne says he accepted a $21,000 settlement from Guilbeau Marine without realizing that in doing so he was giving up his rights to get anything from BP. He says his medical bills have come to $700,000 and he still is dangerously ill, “The president of the United States and the federal government of the United States promised to protect us, but since the oil spill in 2010, they’ve chosen to turn a blind eye,” Clayton Matherne told Courthouse News in a telephone interview.
At an oil spill summit at the Hilton in New Orleans on anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Kenneth Feinberg, who oversees BP’s $20 billion claims process at the Gulf Coast Claims Facility abruptly ended a public meeting shortly after Matherne asked him how it was that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility had managed to lose all of Matherne’s medical records seven times. “The GCCF says they don’t have enough documentation to pay a $100,000 claim, when in fact this amount is only half – I’ve faxed my medical records seven times,” Matherne told Feinberg at the meeting. “Where are medical claims going?”
“We will honor all claims,” Feinberg said, then asked: “Was there evidence the medical condition was on account of oil?” Feinberg told Louisiana lawmakers this month that the GCCF had not seen a single claim for oil-related illnesses on the Gulf Coast. “Did Feinberg follow up? No!” Matherne said in the interview. Neither did Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu.”
Nobody should be left behind…
Feinberg should stay at it for as long as it takes…
And so the Gulf Coast can be sure anyone entitled a payment receives a payment, Feinberg should finally open his books, once and for all…without greater transparency, the Gulf Coast will never really know what is happening here.
Taking Ken’s word for it, as I’ve written before, is as much a thing of the past as Bobby Jindal’s sand berms.
Feinberg is the man who said he was neutral until Judge Barbier said he wasn’t. Feinberg is the man who said there were no health claims, and then quotes popped up where he discussed the health claims he’d received, and denied. This is also the man who told many claimants at town hall meetings he would follow-up with them personally, then never did. Finally, he’s the man who said he was coming to the rescue of the Gulf Coast, only to make too many, far too many, feel they needed rescue from his Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
So ultimately, yes…Ken Feinberg can “say” whatever he wants…that he is hitting his stride, but what he is actually “doing” still leaves much to be desired.
In a great article about the GCCF, Riki Ott attacks both Feinberg’s recent declaration that he’s received no health related claims, and also how being the scientist he is, hasn’t seen any scientific evidence of the link between BP and Nalco’s chemicals and Gulf Coast sickness:
“Recently Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer overseeing the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility to “make it right” for people harmed by the British Petroleum oil blowout disaster, told a Louisiana House and Senate committee that he had not seen any claims, or any scientific evidence, linking BP’s oil and dispersant release to chemical illnesses. Feinberg also stated that chemical illnesses take years to show up — conveniently well after his tenure with the compensation fund.
Instead of tossing the media a juicy bone, Feinberg tossed a red herring. He is wrong at worst, or intentionally misleading at best, on all points.
The GCCF process makes it difficult for people to be compensated for medical claims or even raise illness claims, while making it easy to release claims and rights to future medical care and benefits for chemical illnesses or other medically-proven illness related to the BP blowout and disaster response…”
They both hired Guidepost Solutions to investigate their victims.
When Feinberg decided his “no strings” offer of quick payments for claimants was too, “no strings,” he hired Guidepost Solutions to begin investigating their already paid EAP claims and If the EAP claim was then found to be fraudulent, no quick payment…
And when Strauss-Kahn, the now former head of the IMF gets charged with sexually assaulting a hotel maid, not only does Ben Stein inexplicably come out and defend him(?) by saying hotel maids are a general pain in the ass, but according to the New York Times, Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys hire Guidepost Solutions to investigate the background of the alleged victim…
So, Guidepost Solutions’ll apparently work for anybody, won’t they? Hopefully somebody reminds them some day what mother said about the friends you run with – their character has a way of rubbing off on you…
Barack Obama finally releases the birth certificate, quelling a distraction to his campaign…and conspirators of the world begun their new narratives…it’s a fake or, if you read between the lines, it admits he worships Allah…
Give it time, it’ll happen.
And now, it’s Feinberg’s turn.
Ken has been claiming all along the reason he can’t pay claims is because claimants aren’t providing the documentation necessary. He says his motivation is not to save BP money, his payouts are not unequal, too small, or arbitrary. He claims people who challenge him, the claimants, the writers, the local politicians just don’t have the facts and don’t know what they’re talking about…
Then open it up, Ken.
Prove to us how wrong we are about you, the GCCF and British Petroleum.
From the Pensacola News Journal:
“So here is our suggestion to clear the air and brush away suspicion: Allow public scrutiny of the claims.
Not all the claims, of course. And names and businesses can and should be redacted.
But it is not unreasonable, we think, to have a designated university in each affected state audit the claims, compile the aggregate data of a scientific sample and release that data to the public. No names, no privacy violations, just raw data that would allow the public to see how efficiently — or not — the fund works.”
People believe you are stalling the claims.
Prove this is not the case.
Until you do, this issue will not go away, not even after you’re long gone from the Gulf Coast.
It’s time for the GCCF to release their birth certificate.
Attorney Brian Donovan, with the Donovan Law Group in Tampa, Florida, believes Feinberg is simply doing what he is being paid by BP to do.
“He’s doing his job,” Donovan says. “Feinberg is a defense attorney representing BP. To think otherwise is being foolish. As a defense attorney, he’s doing a great job for BP. But they are saying ‘go with us, or sue us’.”
Donovan has written: “In lieu of ensuring that BP oil spill victims are made whole, the primary goal of GCCF and Feinberg is the limitation of BP’s liability via the systematic postponement, reduction and denial of claims against BP. Victims of the BP oil spill must understand that ‘Administrator’ Feinberg is merely a defense attorney zealously advocating on behalf of his client BP.”
And regarding Feinberg/BP’s no-sue clause:
Contrary to what Feinberg is telling claim applicants, according to Donovan, under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990, a victim of the BP oil spill must first present a claim for damages to BP/GCCF and wait 90 days. If he or she is not paid, or accepts a lesser amount, that does not preclude the victim from pursuing future compensation. In addition, the GCCF/Feinberg requirement that a claimant sign a general release of all rights and claims is contrary to the OPA.
And regarding the inevitable:
While Donovan’s firm has been largely successful in assisting its clients in obtaining their settlements, he says: “I’m sure down the road we’re going to have to file suit. I don’t doubt that
Hey, I thought this whole oil spill deal was all kinda, you know…over.
At least that’s the impression I got watching all them there sparkly British Petroleum commercials, but man, over the past two days, the news has been flying pretty serious again in the Gulf, and between you, me, the courts and the water…I think this has just begun…Maybe I just got distracted by the hockey playoffs…
What? What do you want? I never said I wasn’t from the north…
Archbishop Gregory Aymond got on bended knees and put his arms around two women, listened to the damage BP and the GCCF have wrought and did his best to console them. The women had come to Catholic Charities in Violet for counseling and help with their spill damage claims.
Turns out one of the women, Lois Neville of Violet is yet another one of those people who Ken Feinberg, BP paid administrator of the GCCF and $20 billion escrow fund is saying…well, golly gosh gee, must have slipped through the cracks…hey, mistakes get made, do you know how many claims we’ve received, we’re working as fast as we can…etc…ad nauseum.
Funny thing though, BP was helping her financially, but all payments stopped when Feinberg took over…and she filed for her final settlement, and well past the 90 day time limit Feinberg gave himself to present final offers, she is still waiting…
In her words from David Hammer’s article in the Times-Picayune:
“I’m barely making ends meet with my savings and rental income, and I’m depressed, I’m stressed out,” Neville said. “I get very angry. I hate to even watch the news because there are other people in a worse predicament than me.”
Depressed and stressed out…like thousands of others, yet BP has closed the coffers on funding for mental health in the Gulf Coast…maybe when they said, making things right…they meant everything but the mind.
And hey, why might Ms. Neville still be waiting for her final claim?
It’s been a year since the oil spilled.
Well, on the GCCF front…Feinberg will tell any reporter who listens how he has paid out $3.9 billion dollars of that escrow fund…and apparently, he is quite proud of this fact…lord knows why…after all that means…he hasn’t paid out $16 billion dollars…and of that 3.9, it’s mostly quick payments…very few final offers, and even fewer interim payments…so what gives? Oh…right, right: mistakes get made, do you know how many claims we’ve received and we’re working as fast as we can…got it. Um, bullshit? Not to mention, how convenient was it for Feinberg, the day before the anniversary, the day before the press was to descend all over the Gulf Coast, to suddenly issue the largest final offer to date to Omega Protein Corp, $44.8 million dollars total. I’m sure the timing of this was coincidental, of course…Feinberg couldn’t possibly be such a cynical asshole to present this offer as some sort of distraction to the press, you know, so the coverage might be a bit more balanced as the press goes out to find the countless Lois Neville’s across the Gulf Coast, the ones seeking counseling because they are struggling not to lose everything, again, a year later…
And speaking of unhappy people in the Gulf…well, let the lawsuits begin, and rightfully so…
70,000 people have filed suit in the Gulf in a maritime law proceeding brought by rig owner Transocean, using a form that also expanded the suit to include British Petroleum. This would be on top of the 350 other suits, representing multiple parties already filed. No word on how many of these people are of the 400,000 that Feinberg and the GCCF have not paid yet, or plan not to pay, but Stephen Herman, co-lead attorney for the plaintiffs said, “I think it certainly validates the litigation effort. I also think that it confirms the sentiment out there that Feinberg and the GCCF haven’t really done a great job of giving people what they thought they were entitled to.”
Not to be outdone, British Petroleum filed a suit of their own, going after Cameron International, the company that made the blowout preventer that wouldn’t close. BP would like a court to rule against the company, declaring the device caused or contributed to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. Such a ruling would help BP fight against a designation of being “grossly negligent” which if so designated would dramatically raise the amount of fines British Petroleum will have to pay under the Oil Pollution Act.
Perhaps Feinberg knows a judge, to help out his boss, maybe call in some favors perhaps? It’s been a while since he got a raise, and remember the reason the GCCF keeps screwing people? Right, it’s because they’re overworked…not because the GCCF is trying to coerce people into claims attached to a clause where they sign away their rights to sue BP, and not because Feinberg is trying to save BP money, and certainly not because Feinberg is just trying to keep people out of court…cause, that worked out real well…(see above).
Okay…well, at least…all the oil is gone. And that’s important because according to Feinberg’s methodology, all that oil has to be outta there by 2013. If not, if the Gulf isn’t back to normal by then, the entire pay-scale he is using to determine damages for claimants will be off, and not in the claimants favor…so, hey…at least BP and the Coast Guard, they got that one right…oh, what?
“Mike Robichaux is a local doctor who has seen up to 60 patients in recent weeks with a mysterious sickness that some attribute to BP’s oil spill. Dr. Robichaux has been making house calls because many of the “stoic” workers don’t want others to know that they are sick. Yet, Dr. Robichaux tells the AFP, “Ninety percent of them are getting worse… Nobody has a clue as to what it is.”
Reuters reports that the U.S. National Institutes of Health has launched a ten-year study on the health of 55,000 oil spill clean-up workers and volunteers. Perhaps it will take ten years to get an answer for Dr. Robichaux.
Not everyone blames the oil spill for the health problems plaguing Gulf cleanup workers. Namely, BP does not blame the BP oil spill for the health problems plaguing Gulf cleanup workers. In a BP comment to the AFP, the company wrote, “Illness and injury reports were tracked and documented during the response, and the medical data indicate they did not differ appreciably from what would be expected among a workforce of this size under normal circumstances.”
As for compensating sick workers, this would fall under state law and “must be supported by acceptable medical evidence.” Are the 415 Louisianans suffering from respiratory tract infections, nausea, and headaches evidence enough?”
Oh, and as mentioned before…it ain’t just the physical body having problems…a study funded by the National Science Foundation has found that mental health difficulties are likely to linger on the Gulf Coast for the following decade. According to the study, two factors that could cause stresses to persist are delays in compensation for spill damages by the claims process, and possible slow recovery of fishing resources and the fishing industry.
Feinberg, Dudley…your ears burning?
Okay…my bad on all this everybody…I promise to stop watching so much hockey. It really would appear this thing is far from over…that few are doing well in the Gulf at all
In fact…it would appear the only people really doing well these days are British Petroleum…once again paying stock dividends and issuing bonuses to the elite within its company, and Ken Feinberg,who’s sitting on a helluva nice raise from his British Petroleum puppet masters. Yeah, Ken may be taking a lot of criticism these days, but from everything I read, it doesn’t appear to be affecting his psyche at all, in fact he refers to himself as “Bloodied, but unbowed.” And that’s a good thing too, because whereas some of you lightweights out there might want your guy in charge of helping hundreds of thousands of people recover from this catastraphuk to brag about such things as fairness, compassion, generosity and empathy….I like my arbitrator of a compensation fund to talk like he’s trying out for the WWE, you know, to be a bad-ass who don’t take no crap from some fishing type guys and business people who’ve never been to New York.
Nope…not going well at all:
Cleanup workers are getting sick, depression is running rampant and suicides are up across the Gulf Coast. There’s still oil out there while BP continues to scale back cleanup. BP is reneging on financial promises to help with the oyster beds while helping their stockbrokers and executives to more money. The health of the Gulf continues to be debated. Dolphins are dying. Fish have sores. There are dead zones on the Gulf seafloor. Allegations exist that BP is trying to taint the science by influencing the research. A year after the Deepwater Horizon blew up, no laws have been passed by Congress to help ensure it doesn’t happen again while experts maintain it very well could happen again. The NOAA, EPA and FDA all claim the seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat, and they finally opened the last fishing area but the country isn’t buying it: what the government says, or the seafood – which leaves the industry far from recovered. Too many people are waiting for Feinberg to do his fucking job…homes are being lost, jobs haven’t come back and businesses continue to go bankrupt.
And the President?
Well, he said some words and stuff, but ah…who cares, or believes that guy anymore…
So, as I commented two days ago, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange fired off an angry letter to Ken Feinberg, the BP paid administrator of BP’s compensation fund outlining several objections he had with the process, chief among them being the snail’s pace and meager size of the payments, the lack of transparency in the process, and the stress this is causing to the citizens of his state. Mr. Strange demanded that Ken Feinberg “stop dragging his feet.”
This apparently didn’t sit too well with Mr. Feinberg who promptly wrote a letter of his own, to rebut the charges made by Strange…
Let’s review, shall we?
When it comes to the Quick Pay, Attorney General Strange asserts the reason so many are accepting the quick payments is that claimants are sick of dealing with the GCCF. Feinberg disputes this by writing that claimants take the quick payment because the “claimant cannot prove any further damage.” Maybe, maybe not…many are curious to see if Feinberg is correct in this assumption but its awfully hard tell with so little transparency in the process. Besides, how are we to know if people cannot prove any more damage? Claimants who have accepted quick payments are no longer trying to do so which brings us back to Strange’s assertion, that people choose quick payments out of frustration. One need look only so far as some of the comments being posted by claimants to this website, or the GCCF’s own methodology comments page:
From a business/individual on February 16th, “This methodology is so unfair it now looks good to individuals and business to take the quick pay, you hold all the money and the cards.”
From a business owner on Feb 15th, “Your formula is definitely shaking-down people and businesses that are in a weakened position and are under duress.”
From an individual on Feb 14th, “The thing that really grinds my gears is that you are sitting on 16 billion! You only paid out 3.5 billion to 168,000 claimants…now 1/2 of those are gone because they were desperate and took the quick pay.”
I could continue in this vein, but you get the idea.
Feinberg also combats Strange’s accusation that the GCCF is paying people to go away, that the GCCF is working diligently to protect BP and secure releases for their liability. Feinberg writes how nothing could be further from the truth, that these release are designed to “bring closure to the prospect of endless litigation which is not beneficial either to claimants or the public interest.”
He neglects to mention litigation is also not beneficial to BP.
Nobody likes to go to court Ken, it is a long, drawn out process, but the idea that you are attempting to keep people out of court to give them closure would assume they have otherwise been “made whole.” Seeing how this is far from the case, your suggestion is condescending on two levels: the first being Gulf Coast residents can’t decide for themselves what constitutes closure and the second being people would be so stupid as to not see the waivers as ultimately saving British Petroleum a whole hell of a lot of money.
Next, Strange accused Feinberg of making meager payouts on final claims. Feinberg defends this by once again throwing out large numbers that don’t hold up to some simple math. He says the GCCF has paid $688 million dollars to 28,000 Alabamans. Okay, but this averages out to under $24,000 dollars per claim, a sum Feinberg calls “not an insignificant amount.” I would argue, like Strange, that it is quite insignificant as a large percentage of those claims are not individual claims, but business claims which receive much higher payouts and drive that average up. The future of the Gulf is unknown and the simple idea that these amounts, these averages will compensate for all present and future losses when twenty years after the Exxon Valdez, some industries have yet to rebound is again, laughable.
Feinberg points out that anyone can turn down his offer or appeal it to the Coast Guard. 467 people have tried this and 467 people have been denied, something Feinberg believes shows his process to be fair. Perhaps, or it might also show the Coast Guard is equally stingy and working with the same flawed recovery statistics as the GCCF, recovery statistics that claim the Gulf’s environment will be made whole inside of two years. This is doubtful, as a multitude of independent scientists suggest, and honestly, the Coast Guard has not been a shiny beacon of legitimacy throughout the past year…from Thad Allen’s sweeping pronouncement that they weren’t banning the reporters they were banning, to the way they stated Corexit was no longer being used when it was, to the way they accepted BP’s vastly flawed flow-rates before the well was capped, flow-rates that slowed down the spill response. In fact, I’d be curious to see any example where the Coast Guard didn’t give in to British Petroleum on pretty much anything over the past year, so why would the appeals process be any different? And this doesn’t even touch on the false hope involved in telling claimants if they don’t like the GCCF offer, they can appeal to a different body, a Coast Guard commission that has never ruled in any claimant’s favor.
Ken, isn’t that just kind of rubbing their faces in it?
Next, Strange expressed dismay about Feinberg’s continued inference of fraud being evident in claims made to the GCCF. Feinberg rebuts this by writing the GCCF has sent 1,035 claimants suspected of fraud to the Justice Department, “not an insignificant number.” Actually Ken, it is. Numerous studies have shown that after any major disaster, on average, 10% of claims in any claims process can be considered fraudulent. There have been over 480,000 claims made to the GCCF in total which would make the percentage of suspected fraudulent claims you forwarded to the DOJ ring in at far less than 1%.
Fraud is not a problem in the Gulf Coast claims process, regardless of suggestion by Feinberg, it merely serves as cover to the GCCF’s flaws.
Strange also wonders why Ken Feinberg now omits from his press releases the fact that 310,000 people were denied during the EAP process; the Attorney General further calls this omission another example of the GCCF not being “completely forthcoming.” Well okay, I’ll give that one to Feinberg. He pretty much states these numbers are common knowledge, and they are, so why would he have reason to hide them? The only thing I might consider is that when it comes to framing narratives, and Feinberg is indeed trying to promote the narrative that the GCCF is fair, he probably doesn’t want to start his recitation of final and interim claim numbers by reminding everyone just how many EAP’s the GCCF turned down. 310,000 denials with little to no transparency can cast a long shadow over a conversation on fairness.
Finally, Strange demands more transparency.
He wants Feinberg to release the amount of damages people are claiming versus the amount of damages the GCCF has offered to pay. In response Feinberg writes, “the release of such data would be a useless exercise; indeed it would be counterproductive.”
Useless and counterproductive to who? The GCCF? BP?
He goes on to cite a couple of examples where people have filed ridiculous claims, one person requesting the full $20 billion dollars while another claimant filed damages for $11 billion. Agreed Ken, those claims are ridiculous, but seeing as I can figure that out I’m pretty sure you can trust everybody else to see it as well. You write that people typically file for more damages than they can prove. and this is also true, but what Strange would appear to be looking for is a pattern of low-balling claims, and when your amounts offered are indeed meager, wanting to see this information in order to accurately evaluate your process seems entirely justified.
As I have written before, when it comes to the GCCF, full transparency is warranted. Transparency demonstrates a commitment to justice, to confidence, to credibility, but your credibility has been shown time and time again to be lacking, especially when Judge Barbier ruled you are not “independent” of BP as you so loudly trumpeted for months to anyone within ear shot of the Gulf Coast.
In fact, Barbier ruled you to be a “hybrid entity” of BP, and your claims to transparency are also a hybrid of the real thing, kind of…but not really.
The time where you could be taken at face value, where you could decide what is in the “public interest,” or how the release of information would be nothing more than a “useless exercise” are over. In fact, one could argue, as Strange does in a roundabout way, the only “useless exercise” going on in the Gulf is when you base any pro-GCCF arguments on your word.
Again, from the GCCF comments section come these words from an e-mail sent to you on Feb 14th, “I believe you should revert to the old BP calculations, they seemed fair and well thought out.” Now that is an impressive feat. Ken, once you were a self proclaimed savior to the Gulf Coast, but your Gulf Coast Claims Facility is so backwards, one claimant actually feels BP was the fair one, all along…
Methinks Strange is correct in his words.
Your’s are just one more empty harangue intended to deflect the reponsibility of failing the Gulf Coast.
They want you to accept whatever pittance they choose to give you, and say thanks for the pocket change while your homes, your businesses are foreclosed upon. Their mistakes pissed on what you knew as normal, your lives and your families. Washington DC, and many of your local politicians expressed empathy, and then cut funding to the social services keeping you afloat. The environmental protections meant to keep you safe were gutted and underfunded, and now that they have collapsed, immersed in a bath of oil and chemicals…they ignore your demands to keep your lives within the shadow of the American Dream, that same dream being lived by the politicians who sold you out while they shook your hand…and expected your vote.
Let’s call it what it is and confront the demons the corruption of our country has wrought…