February 10, 2011
BP Oil Spill: GCCF announces new payment criteria
On Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, Administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) Kenneth Feinberg announced new proposed criteria that the GCCF plans to use moving forward as it continues to evaluate the payment of Final and Interim claims arising out of the BP Oil Spill.
The GCCF has paid about $3.3 billion to an estimated 168,000 oil spill victims, but thousands have been denied compensation or are still awaiting payments.
The new oil spill payment proposal includes eligibility and substantiation criteria and the calculation methodology that will be used to determine payments. In addition, BP oil spill victims and other interested parties will have a two-week period during which time they can provide feedback on the proposal. The GCCF Final and Interim Payments will begin after this period concludes on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011, if the plan is made final.
Visit www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com to see the proposed methodology for evaluating claims, as well as the comments submitted during the two-week comment period.
Commenting on how settlement offers will be assessed, Feinberg stated, "The GCCF... concluded that in all cases other than oyster harvesting, a two to three year recovery is reasonable ... claimants have the option of accepting a Final Payment for all future damage or, if uncertain of the future, deciding to wait and accept an Interim Payment for documented quarterly past damage."
Motley Rice oil spill lawyer Kevin Dean said in response to the proposed plan, "The announcement today by Mr. Feinberg and the GCCF regarding its proposed final payment methodology indicates that little is being done in favor of the oil spill victims' best interests. Based on the GCCF's belief that the Gulf will be fully recovered by 2012, victims will only receive compensation covering losses for the next three years despite the unknown long-term consequences of the spill. This belief is not based upon any concrete evidence or realistic projections as we have not yet cycled through the upcoming tourism and fishing seasons or received complete environmental studies."
In a follow-up story done by Reuters on Feb. 10, 2011, Dean added he believes his clients "were forced to accept these settlements under financial duress and were not informed of their rights before they signed legal releases." He plans to discuss their legal options within the next two months if the court takes no further action in the next 30 to 60 days. "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."