Gulf Coast Claims Facility Underpaying Victims
BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill fund ‘underpaying victims’
BP’s oil spill compensation fund is underpaying victims, according to Mississippi’s attorney general.
By Rowena Mason
Jim Hood filed a court motion on behalf of the state, whose residents suffered heavily when BP’s oil well exploded killing 11 men last April. He is urging better supervision of the $20bn (£12bn) fund by Carl Barbier, the judge in charge of overseeing legal action against BP.
The attorney general claims that people are signing “seemingly very low settlements” that bar them from later legal action, because emergency relief money has not been paid quickly enough.
“This scheme is another device for BP [through the fund] to entice claimants to sign a release and to improperly leverage those releases by intentionally underpaying interim claims,” he claimed. “BP is withholding interim claim payments to increase financial hardship on claimants.”
The oil spill fund has an independent administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, who also oversaw payments to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It has received 468,000 claims and paid out $2.7bn to 170,000 claimants. BP won’t comment on the fund, because it is not in charge of the process.
Mr Feinberg has said he believes that only half of the $20bn set aside for victims will need to be paid out . On Wednesday a report predicted that the Gulf Coast would be back to economic health by 2013.