The Donovan Law Group

Kenneth R. Feinberg: “BP oil spill victims were never under financial duress!”

Tampa, FL (April 21, 2015) – Clint Guidry, the president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, recently said many fishermen who were BP oil spill victims took Ken Feinberg’s “Quick Payments,” settlements that required no additional documentation from the claimants but also required them to sign away any further claims against BP, under duress.

But Feinberg refuses to believe that. Feinberg incredulously states,

“I’ve never seen any evidence of duress.” “I can either get a great deal more money with documentation, or I don’t even need documentation and I can get a check in the next couple of weeks or months. I’m not surprised at all, human nature being what it is. I see no duress. I see each fisherman making the decision of what’s best for the fisherman.”

“…when it comes to compensating innocent people, I think that what we [Feinberg Rozen, et al.] did and what BP did deserves a great deal of praise.”

I believe Kenneth meant to say,

“I was never under any financial duress. I think that I deserve a great deal of praise for limiting BP’s liability.”

The Feinberg Payment Methodology

The purpose of the Feinberg payment methodology was to generate as much financial duress as possible in order to maximize the number of signed releases.

Phase I

During GCCF Phase I, which operated from August 23, 2010 through November 23, 2010, GCCF accepted Emergency Advance Payment (“EAP”) claims. Over 475,000 EAP claims were filed with GCCF by BP oil spill victims from August 23, 2010 through November 23, 2010. GCCF paid in excess of $2.5 billion to more than 169,000 Phase I claimants. In sum, the average total amount paid per EAP claimant by GCCF was a paltry $14,793.00. A claimant who received an EAP during Phase I was not required to execute a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue” BP or any other party.

Phase II

During GCCF Phase II, known as the “Interim Payment/Final Payment” claims process, GCCF received the following three types of claims:

  • Quick Payment Final Claim,
  • Interim Payment Claim, and
  • Full Review Final Payment Claim.

Under the “Quick Payment Final Claim,” a claimant who had received a prior EAP or Interim Payment from GCCF could receive, without further documentation of losses caused by the BP oil spill, a one-time final payment of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses. Claimants seeking a Quick Payment were required to submit with their claim form a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue.”

Feinberg cannot justify limiting payments under the “Quick Payment Final Claim” program to just $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses. There is no evidence that these amounts even remotely represent adequate consideration to compensate claimants for the damages that claimants did or will suffer as a result of the BP oil spill.

Under the “Interim Payment Claim,” a claimant allegedly could elect to receive compensation for documented past losses or damages caused by the BP oil spill for which the claimant previously had not been compensated. A claimant seeking an Interim Payment was not required to sign a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue.” A claimant was permitted to file only one Interim Payment Claim per quarter.

Under the “Full Review Final Payment Claim,” a claimant could receive payment for all documented past damages and estimated future damages resulting from the BP oil spill. Claimants wishing to accept a Final Payment were required to sign and submit a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue.” Any Full Review Final Payment awarded to a claimant was decreased by the amount of any previous payments received.

The GCCF status report data indicates that a total of 574,379 unique claimants filed claims with the GCCF during the period from approximately August 23, 2010 to March 7, 2012. The GCCF paid only 221,358 of these claimants. In sum, the GCCF denied payment to approximately 61.46% of the claimants who filed claims; the average total amount paid per claimant was a paltry $27,466.47.

The GCCF status report data further indicates that the GCCF:

(a) paid a total of 230,370 claimants who filed claims with the GCCF during the “Phase II” period;

(b) of these, 195,109 were either Quick Pay or Full Review Final payments; and

(c) only 35,261 were Interim payments.

In sum, Kenneth R. Feinberg forced 84.68% of the claimants to sign a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue” in which the claimant agreed not to sue BP and all other potentially liable parties; only 15.31% of the claimants were not required to sign a “Release and Covenant Not to Sue” in order to be paid.

Enough is enough.

Let’s be very clear:

(a) Kenneth R. Feinberg was BP’s defense attorney. He was not a “Fund Administrator.” BP paid Feinberg Rozen, LLP a sum of $1.25 million per month to have Ken Feinberg limit its liability;

(b) Kenneth R. Feinberg was appointed due to his political connections and his willingness to do whatever was necessary to limit BP’s liability; and

(c) Kenneth R. Feinberg is not the “Master of Disasters.” Kenneth is a “Master of Deception” and a “Master of Self-Promotion.”

Kenneth R. Feinberg’s latest self-promotional video is hosted by David Hammer on WWL-TV.

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