New BP oil-spill claim centers opening throughout the Gulf Coast
Eighteen new oil-spill claims offices, including three in Alabama, are opening next week to help individuals and businesses harmed by BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill receive compensation for their losses.
The Deepwater Horizon Claims Center (DHCC) replaces the Gulf Coast Claims Center administered by Kenneth Feinberg, who came under heavy criticism for serving the interests of BP over those hurt by the massive oil spill. The DHCC is the result of the settlement negotiated between BP and the plaintiff’s steering committee and finalized in March. Patrick Juneau, a lawyer from Lafayette, Louisiana, was appointed as the Center’s new administrator by the court.
According to the Times-Picayune, a separate facility will also open to handle the claims of Gulf Coast residents and cleanup workers who allege injuries resulting from their exposure to the oil spill.
The disastrous oil spill started on April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf, killing 11 workers and releasing more than 200 million gallons of oil from its blown-out Macondo well, situated about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. The spill harmed fishing grounds from Texas to Florida, sickened thousands of residents, and devastated businesses. Local and state governments also suffered with the resulting drop in tax revenues during an already difficult economy.
Those who made damages claims through the old GCCF often complained its representatives dragged their feet and under-compensated them. Mr. Juneau began touring the claim centers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Monday to spread the message that the new DHCC will work for the people, not for BP or the federal government.
“I want this program to kick off in a friendly manner and assist people. I want (the staff) to pay all legitimate, eligible claims 100 percent of what they’re due,” Mr. Juneau told the Associated Press. “This is not a negotiating matter. We are not trying to negotiate lesser sums.”
According to terms of the settlement, the new claims system has no cap, meaning there is no pre-established limit on how much funds are available to pay damages. BP has estimated it will ultimately pay $7.8 billion to fulfill these claims. Those who had claims rejected by Mr. Feinberg’s GCCF and those who never filed a previous claim will be allowed to file claims under the new system.
Mr. Juneau said that there will inevitably be some more complex claims that require accountants to handle and approve, mostly dealing with claims of failed businesses and start-ups. Some claims may be rejected, he said, because they are outside of the geographical limitations set by the agreement or come from certain excluded industries. However, any claimant who feels they have been unfairly compensated or rejected still has the right to pursue such claims against BP in court.
DHCC offices in Alabama are located in Bayou La Batre, Gulf Shores, and Mobile.
- Mental health decline in Gulf Coast two years after BP oil spill
- Gulf fishermen say 2012 season is off to a bad start, most blame BP oil spill
- Alabama seeks BP oil spill liability trial in July
- Tourism in Gulf Coast states already taking a hit from oil spill
- BP oil spill prompts US to mandate better blowout preventers on Gulf wells