Monday, June 28, 2010

Why I'm not Real Happy about the potential $20B Claims Funds to be handled by Kennth Feinberg

Gulf Breeze Claims office - Gulf Breeze, FL 2Image via Flickr
There are continuing discussions about the soon to be administered $20 Billion fund from BP through Kenneth Feinberg's process: 

Feinberg plan to set a cutoff date for filing emergency claims which would be submitted at least two months after the spill finally ends. From there, expect a  formal settlement process. Claimants are not being required to sign any waivers during the emergency claims process, but might very well will have to agree not to sue BP in the future when they apply or a final settlement.    He was quoted as saying "At some point I will offer the claimant a lump sum for all future losses and giving a release that they will no longer sue BP in connection with the spill. If they don't like it they can reject the lump sum. "  

What concerns me is the continuing commentary by Feinberg - an 'impartial' administrator who has not opened claim one - that somehow lawyers want "40%" of anything. He's using that figure as a 2 by 4 in advance. I know of more than a dozen firms that are handling BP/OPA claims for free. Others are charging only 10%.

Does Feinberg expect that a person without a lawyer may conclude: 1.  If the settlement is sufficient, or
2.  What the risks are, or will they be significant if an amount is turned down, or 3.  How to determine the value of future claims?

If  a claimant does not know how to find environmental or business valuation experts,  what then?

I'm all for a discussion of what is right and wrong. I'm all for reasonable charges being discussed across the board - accountants, environmental engineers, experts on remediation, business valuation experts - all of whom have much to gain in the claims process.
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