Emergency Oil Spill Claims Denied
More than 100,000 emergency oil spill claims denied in 10 days
Ken Feinberg’s operation has denied more than 100,000 emergency spill claims in the past 10 days as it nears a Dec. 15 deadline to process all 455,000 such claims.
As of Saturday night, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility had denied more than 173,000 claims from businesses and individuals, including 24,000 from Mississippi and 22,000 from Alabama. Only 67,000 claimants had been turned down as of Nov. 24.
Feinberg, the top claims administrator, said many claimants were denied because they lacked proper records to document their losses. They can refile for final or interim payments with better documentation, he said.
Denied claimants can also appeal to the U.S. Coast Guard’s claims process or sue BP PLC.
“The number of denied claimants continues to soar for two reasons,” Feinberg said in an e-mail Monday. “1) Thousands and thousands of claimants, who were asked over the past few months to submit additional documentation have not done so; so they are now being denied. 2) Claimants who filed in the past few weeks with insufficient documentation have automatically been denied.”
Feinberg on Aug. 23 took over the process of compensating individuals and businesses damaged by the BP oil spill. Until Nov. 23, he allowed people to file for emergency claims, which covered up to six months of lost earnings and did not force anyone to sign away their rights to sue BP.
Now people can file for final settlements, which require waiving legal rights against BP or they can file for interim payments, which cover three months of lost earnings at a time but do not require a legal waiver.
To date, Feinberg’s operation has paid out more than $2.3 billion to nearly 158,000 individuals and businesses.
His claims facility, however, has been the source of repeated criticisms that larger businesses were being treated unfairly, and big business claims were often paid at just a small percentage of the total loss.
Many of the large businesses along the coast — such as hotels, condo-rental companies, restaurants and retailers — have described severe losses when the spill wrecked the summer tourism season.
Feinberg and his associates have responded to the criticism by meeting with several large claimants and have promised supplemental payments to some.
In Mississippi, nearly 50,000 claims have been filed. More than 14,000 have been paid for a total of about $200 million. About 7,000 require more documentation, and 3,000 are under review.
More than 66,000 claims have been filed in Alabama. Thus far, nearly $427 million has been paid out to about 27,000 claims. Nearly 11,000 claims need more documentation before they can be approved, and another 4,500 are still under review.
Overall, there are about 80,000 emergency claims remaining that do not have enough documentation to be approved.
Feinberg said he plans to either approve or deny all emergency claims by Dec. 15, at which point his operation will begin processing final and interim claims.