Feinberg Pledges to Issue Spill Checks Within 24 Hours

Kenneth Feinberg, Gulf Coast Claims administrator
Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator Kenneth Feinberg. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, said he intends to issue emergency payment checks to individuals within 24 hours of an application for losses tied to the BP Plc oil spill.

Checks for businesses will be issued within seven days, Feinberg said today in a statement releasing protocols for the $20 billion fund BP set up. Emergency claims can be filed from Aug. 23 through Nov. 23, he said.

“Having the emergency protocol in place is the first step to helping the people on the path to recovery,” Feinberg said in the statement.

The nine-page document outlines details Feinberg provided during congressional hearings and in meetings in the past two months with Gulf Coast residents and local officials in preparation for taking over the claims process from BP. The bar for proving a loss will be lower for the emergency payments than it will be for a final lump-sum claim, Feinberg has said.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican, said the requirements spelled out in the document will impose a higher burden of proof for claimants than is required by federal law covering oil spills.

“The current process appears to be even less generous to Floridians than the BP process,” McCollum wrote to Feinberg today. Documents released by the claims facility could confuse potential claimants, said McCollum, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 24 primary.

Costs, Losses

State and federal laws will guide Feinberg in determining eligibility for payment, according to the protocols. The document covers claims from individuals or businesses that spent money to remove oil, own property damaged by oil, lost profits from the spill or subsist on natural resources harmed by the oil.

McCollum said a statement from Feinberg indicated that claimants who had filed with BP would have to resubmit their applications using an 18-page form created for the claims facility. The protocols don’t mention a need to refile.

Feinberg will also administer claims for physical injury and death. Eleven workers died when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded then sank in April, triggering the largest U.S. offshore spill.

Interim payments will be subtracted from the final payment, according to the protocols. Claimants also must submit any earnings made from alternative employment during the period for which they seek additional compensation.

Feinberg has pledged to be “more generous” than the courts in making payments to victims of the oil spill.

In accepting final payments, claimants waive their right to sue BP. Feinberg told Bloomberg News in a phone interview last week that he expected to begin writing final payment checks after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in late November.

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