Claims Deadline Looms

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL - Under fire for a backlog of claims, Ken Feinberg, the man in charge of a 20 billion dollar BP fund, says he expects criticism.

“I have a thick skin and a backbone,” said Feinberg.

For the next three hours members of Florida Oil Spill task force peppered the claims czar with questions and critiques.

“For every one customer who is happy you have two that are unhappy,” said Bill Steward with the Attorney General’s office.

300 thousand claims have been filed. Two in three haven’t been paid. Feinberg says many of them lack documentation.

“This is a real problem,” said Feinberg.

Feinberg says a flood of claims flowing in since October 1st has bogged down the system. He questions the validity of some of the new claims as the deadline to file approaches.

Floridians have until November 23rd to file an emergency claim. After that claimants will be asked to accept a lump sum payment and agree not to sue BP.

Claimants will have three years to make up their minds, but experts say the effects of the oil spill on the fishing industry may not be realized for decades. Feinberg says it’s a decision every fisherman will have to examine closely.

“I’ll do the best I can in calculating long term damage and leave it up to each claimant to decide whether or not to take that check,” said Feinberg.

But lump sum payments are the furthest thing from some people’s minds, because some Floridians who suffered financial damage still haven’t received a dime from BP.

To help with the backlog of claims, Feinberg plans to hire Floridians to handle Florida cases, put more information on the internet, and give claimants a case manager so they don’t have to deal with a different person every time they call.


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