NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Justice Department and BP announced that they have finished negotiations to implement a $20 billion fund for victims of the Gulf oil spill and that BP will make a $3 billion initial deposit in September. The government said the company still needs to ensure that all the necessary funds will be available if something happens to the BP subsidiary that established the trust and that the Justice Department looks forward to completing an appropriate security arrangement in the near future. Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's pay czar, takes over processing claims from the $20 billion oil spill compensation fund later in August. Regarding this, Attorney Stuart Smith issued the following statement:
I am unclear what the government is so happy about today.
First, Gulf Coast families are suffering and on the verge of bankruptcy now, so it's not comforting that BP is taking 90 days to deposit its first check.
Second, let's realize what we have here: A totally secret negotiation process between BP and the Administration, which you can bet means the victims of BP's catastrophe will pay for this lack of transparency.
BP has stalled, tinkered and confused this claims process with foot-dragging and mountains of paperwork. Now it appears BP has no intention of paying many of the filed claims. The Destin Log reported that people are being told no claims from May will be paid by BP. BP is re-positioning on the economic claims issue, hoping to limit claims to areas actually hit by the oil. Try telling that to a beachside restaurant that called the Summer of 2010 the season that "wasn't".
Even the government's appointed claims mediator, Mr. Feinberg, is underscoring "well, you have to prove your claim." To me, that's a signal to people that they should consider getting some professional help and expect an adversarial system.
And today's actions only underscore that.
SOURCE Stuart H. Smith of Smith Stag Law Firm