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Can Kenneth Feinberg and his Gulf Coast Claims Facility be Trusted?

Kenneth Feinberg was brought in over the summer to administer a $20 billion fund that British Petroleum set up to compensate victims of the April Deepwater Horizon accident and subsequent oil spill.

Not Working For Free Kenneth Feinberg

A veteran of such projects as the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, you can be assured that he is not working for free. Anyone to be trusted with a $20 billion piggy bank is probably raking in a few dollars himself. In Feinberg’s case, it is quite a lot more than a few dollars. His law firm is currently being bankrolled by British Petroleum to the tune of $850,000. And that is per month, not per year. Can anyone making that kind of cash, being paid essentially by “the enemy”, really be trusted?

BP brought in Mr. kenneth Feinberg after they created a public relations disaster by trying to buy off affected people with a slick damage-control advertising campaign and an offer to give out a quick one-time only paycheck to anyone who would take it and forever relinquish their right to sue. While KennethFeinberg claims to be working to help the victims of the Deepwater Horizon accident, it is hard to forget that it is BP paying him nearly a million dollars a month.

Kenneth Feinberg new suggestion

In December, Feinberg convinced BP to speed up the final claims payouts with yet another new “quick pay” option. Once again, aggrieved persons could get a quick settlement if they would simply sign a statement saying they were giving up their rights to any further money down the road or any possibility of a lawsuit. Did this help a lot of people? Sure. There are many legitimate claims that can and should be taken care of quickly. It still smacks of a rush to get people out the door and off the back of BP though.

Kenneth Feinberg Under The Loop

In today’s headlines, however, New York University legal ethics professor Stephen Gillers states that Feinberg is, in fact, making his decisions on his own and without interference or commentary from BP. Professor Gillers was given unprecedented access to the contract between BP and Feinberg after the Louisiana Attorney General accused Feinberg of being coerced by BP in November. After reviewing the secret agreement, Gillers issued a statement that he was satisfied with the independent nature of the relationship between BP and Feinberg. Gillers believes that Feinberg is doing as fair a job as expected and has received no pressure from BP. Well, except for that huge paycheck every month. Another final thought to ponder: Gillers himself received $950 an hour from the $20 billion BP fund for his advice. Apparently all of us are in the wrong business. If I was Kenneth Feinberg I would get claim decisions out faster and change the standard letter to something that gave people an understanding of why they did not get their claim approved