To the editor:
Regarding Gulf Coast Claims Facility Claims Administrator Kenneth Feinberg's decision to freeze payments.
On Dec. 28, the Court in the multi-district oil spill proceedings in New Orleans issued an order that established a "reserve" account at the request of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee. As part of this order, the Court directed that an amount equivalent to 6 percent of any payments made on or after Nov. 7, 2011, be withheld from claimants who settle directly with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
Feinberg froze all further claim payments and claim determinations until the Court's order is clarified.
The Gulf State Attorneys General and the U.S. Department of Justice have been responsible for seeking and obtaining improvements to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility claims process, while the Plaintiff's Steering Committee has worked to steer claimants away from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility claims process and into the federal court litigation.
Individuals who suffered financial losses due to the oil spill deserve to receive fair compensation as quickly as possible, and Feinberg's attempt to freeze payments is an overreaction that prolongs long-awaited financial relief to those who need it.
Editor's note: Bondi's letter had the appropriate effect as payments have been resumed. For more on Bondi's response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, go to myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/24D0D3377FA1B42D8525791B006A54F6.
I encourage Feinberg to resume making payments and issuing determination letters. If he deems it necessary because of the Court's order, he can set aside six percent of those payments until the Court clarifies its position. Under no circumstances should he further delay the claims process.
The entire purpose of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 claims process is to allow claimants an opportunity to have their oil spill claims paid without litigation. There is no nexus between any work that may have been done by the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in the federal court litigation and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility recoveries obtained by individual or business claimants. Accordingly, the Plaintiff's Steering Committee should not be allowed to extract a substantial portion of those non-litigation recoveries for its own benefit.
Florida attorney general