22 August 2010

BP Screws Over Gulf Residents With New Claims Restrictions

*** BP continues to play the shell game of moving the pea with misdirection and sleight of hand, with the definition of "legitimate claims" an elusive target to hit for residents.

The BP Claims Fund

From Denny: Remember that sweet deal the President made with BP about setting up the $20 billion claims fund? Everyone in America thought it was great and people would get compensated. Finally, we all could start rebuilding and move past this huge environmental disaster.

Then, a snag: Oh, by the way, BP never funded the claims fund in the first place. So, out comes the claims administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, begging BP in public to fund the claims so the checks he writes would not bounce. Then, no word on that front from BP or the government.

Latest changing definition of eligibility

Now, the latest in the long stalling tactic from BP is yet another insult to everyone's intelligence: suddenly new application guidelines appear on the horizon. The new rule is that if you live within one mile of the shore you are the only ones who will get compensated. Are they crazy?

This disaster has impacted all the way up the coast in Louisiana to Baton Rouge (capital city of the state), hundreds of miles away, where many businesses here supply the oil industry. In fact, many Baton Rouge residents work on the oil rigs - gone for weeks at a time. These guys commute, folks, hundreds of miles to work - yet they don't qualify for compensation???

Obama's oil moratoriums killed what was left of the Gulf coast economy

When President Obama enacted his first and then second oil moratorium the economy in Louisiana has now come to a standstill. Everyone is trying to keep treading the financial waters - and a lot of businesses have already gone under in this state. Now BP claims they won't process claims from any of these people who live beyond a mile from the shore?

Ken Feinberg hopes to bring sanity and decency to the process when he takes over the claims process

Ken Feinberg, a Washington lawyer, takes over BP's Gulf Coast Claims Facility on Monday morning. He has been down here on the Gulf talking to residents and explaining the process. While people in this area can understand there are greedy opportunists across America claiming how they are hurt by this oil spill and you want to weed them out - why is the government and BP denying the truly legitimate claims?

"If you have documented your claim, you will be paid in 48 hours," Feinberg said at a public meeting Friday. That's the rub. BP keeps changing the definition of proper documentation.

Feinberg works to get out payments while Republicans in Congress sit on their hands refusing to help small businesses

Feinberg says he hopes to process individual claims within 48 hours and then the business claims within seven days. These people have already been waiting since April 22. Just how long do you think those small businesses can hold on? The Republicans have held up the legislation in Congress to help small businesses rebuild. The Democrats have yet to get this bill passed. Now that waits until September when Congress comes back to Washington after enjoying their vacations - while 20 million Americans are now foreclosed upon and homeless, out of work and desperate.

Feinberg faces a daunting task once he gets past the immediate necessity payments. He will have to assign some kind of dollar value to the damages which could exist for years to come. Feinberg has received claims from 48 states, far away from the Gulf coast and downright suspect of how much they were affected by the oil spill.

Who actually does qualify for immediate payments?

BP is calling the latest changing definition of "legitimate claims" as "emergency claims." People who live within a mile of the shore and make their living on the water are the only ones to qualify as eligible:


Who will never get paid for a claim?

Remember all those businesses on the various Gulf coast beaches - like restaurants, hotels and small shops that lost tourism business? None of them are eligible to be compensated, not now or ever.

Others that will not be reimbursed, including claims for:

• loss of property value
• mental health claims
• loss of jobs due to drilling moratorium

What's the good news?

So, what's the good news now that Feinberg is taking over come Monday morning? He's getting rid of the BP claims workers who have lied to and harassed the claimants and replacing them with newly trained workers. That's a great start as their newly stated goal is to process claims efficiently, quickly and finally start answering questions when asked. All 35 offices will remain open.

What does a claimant give up when accepting some payment?

Some of the sticking points for receiving those payments? Claimants can receive from one to six month's worth of compensation without having to give up their right to sue. However, if you do file for and receive a lump sum payment later in the year they have to give up their right to sue. Feinberg still has not settled upon whether giving up their rights to litigate will involve only BP or will include the other companies like Transocean involved in the oil spill.

Feinberg's wants refiling of previous claims not yet paid

Now that Feinberg has taken over he is requiring everyone who has already filed a claim to file yet a new claim, though without resubmitting previous documentation. The reason for that? BP did a lousy job of keeping up with the paperwork. There were people who never filed claims yet received claim numbers. How did that happen?

Currently, BP "claims" they have already paid out $374 million in claims. Yeah? I'd like to see that paperwork since they can't seem to document anything else well.

BP is also making the "claim" that if the $20 billion fund runs out they will still continue to pay "legitimate claims." Their words are as hollow as ever to the people on the Gulf coast.

Gulf coast residents unhappy with the latest new rules imposed upon them

"The word 'happy' is not in the dictionary," said Feinberg. "Nobody can be expected to be happy. These citizens have suffered a great harm. Few will consider themselves happy over this."

Oil Spill Claim Guidelines Cause Uproar
Obama's Pick to Run BP's $20 Billion Claims Fund Says Businesses Far Away from Gulf Coast Might Not Get Paid

Feinberg plans to be more generous than courts in oil claims process

Gulf Claims Chief Says No-Sue Rule Was His Idea

*** Boycott BP photo by Rusty Boxcars @ flickr

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