Patience running out for Feinberg's oil spill claims process

3:29 PM, Sep 24, 2010   |    comments
Kenneth Feinberg
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Angry Floridians and businesses say their patience is running thin for Kenneth Feinberg and the way he is running the claims process in connection with the BP oil spill.

They complain the claims process has gotten worse under Feinberg's leadership and some say the president and BP should dump Feinberg if he doesn't get his act together soon.

Members of Florida's Oil Spill Economic Recovery Claims Group met in Tallahassee on Friday.  They said Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Facility is slow to pay out claims, gives people a runaround and is worse than the system formerly run by BP.

The oil company turned over the administration of a $20 billion fund to Feinberg on August 23rd to cover damages from the oil spill.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum reported the system currently has a backlog of 14,000 claims from Florida and the pile is growing larger every day.

"We're all frustrated of course with the passage of time because people have real hurt.  They have real losses.  They have real damages and every claim that is delayed is a claim that is hurting somebody's family."

Task force member Jennifer Ellison says nobody in Feinberg's operation seems to know how to handle claims and when they do make payments, the checks are for only a fraction of what people asked for initially.

"It's just a check in the mail for 10% to 15%, I've heard as high as 40% of what you asked for with no explanation whatsoever and no one to even call and ask how did you come up with this number."

Charter boat captain Bob Zales says Feinberg is falling far short of what he promised earlier this summer.

"I can appreciate the fact that he screwed up but he needs to be accountable for that and he needs to rectify it because his failure to comply with what he initially said is causing people to lose their home, causing people to lose their boats.  We're going to have a serious problem in the next few months if these people don't get some money.  I'm one of them."

McCollum says the biggest problem right now for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is the huge backlog of claims from Florida.

"I want to see the backlog cleared out sooner rather than later and each passing week that this sits around, the worse it gets."

McCollum says Florida is doing the best it can to keep the pressure on Feinberg to make more timely payments.  But McCollum says if the process doesn't improve in the next three months, he expects pressure will mount to find someone else to run the BP escrow fund.

Dave Heller

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