State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says he has received concessions from Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility entrusted with managing the claims process for victims of the BP oil disaster, that should make the process more streamlined and transparent.
Last week Caldwell sent a letter to Feinberg objecting to GCCF asking claimants to essentially sign away their rights in exchange for a final settlement. Caldwell argued that GCCF “is an independent claims administrator and should be putting as much effort into protecting the rights of the claimants as they do the rights of British Petroleum.” The AG urged Feinberg to ensure a better explanation of the process for claimants and that they be informed of their right to seek legal counsel, and that there needs to be more transparency in the claims process, including allow the state to look over GCCF’s shoulder.
On Tuesday Feinberg responded. In a letter to Caldwell, the administrator said he made changes to the language in the release forms “to narrow the differences and will allow interim claims without the necessity of a release for the entire three year life of the GCCF.”
Caldwell says he is speaking with other Gulf Coast attorneys general to press Feinberg “to agree to restrict the scope of releases when final payments are accepted, to restrict the subrogation rights of BP and to limit deductions from final payments.” Caldwell is also urging claimants to exercise caution during the claims process, to “carefully assess their damages, including future damages, and carefully read any releases and understand their rights before signing any documents in exchange for final settlements,” and to seek private legal counsel.
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