Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kenneth Feinberg freezes payments from BP oil spill fund |

Fallout continues from MDL Judge Carl Barbier's order to deduct 6% of all settlements between BP and claimants  in the Gulf oil spill of 2010.  BP challenges the judge's jurisdiction to order a hold-back of funds paid to people who have not filed suit and have not benefited from the plaintiffs Steering Committee's work and investments in the cases.  As I discuss in a forthcoming piece in the Roger Williams Law Review there is a regulatory vacuum regarding administration of BP's mandatory compensation scheme under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.  Judge Barbier citing the existence of a "putative class" of claimants has stepped boldly into that gap.  - GWC
Kenneth Feinberg freezes payments from BP oil spill fund |
"The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has halted all payments for oil spill damage in the wake of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier last week that 6 percent of all settlements reached after Nov. 7 be set aside to finance the work of plaintiff attorneys in the oil spill litigation in New Orleans. The move means that thousands of people and businesses waiting to be compensated outside of court for harm they endured when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in April 2010 will have to wait longer for their money.

Payments to about 9,000 people and businesses who have received final determination letters from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, but have yet to sign the award, are now in play. Another 40,000 people and businesses have claims under review at the GCCF and could also be affected.
"While we seek clarification from the court, we will freeze all GCCF payments going forward," claims facility administrator Kenneth Feinberg said Tuesday. "Hopefully, this freeze will be of a very short duration.""
Goodwin Procter, attorneys for Feinberg and the GCCF have asked for clarification of how to comply with the ruling which is effective November 7.  At least some of those funds are no longer within the GCCF or BP's control.

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