Thursday, April 19, 2012
A statement from the Attorney General's office says some Mississippians affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could be getting more money to pay for damages. Here is the statement, verbatim:
Mississippi Claimants to Receive Additional $4.6 Million from GCCF
April 19, 2012
Jackson, MS--Attorney General Jim Hood is happy to see that more money is being made available to Mississippi claimants following the United States Department of Justice's (DOJ) announcement today concerning the conclusion of its evaluation of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF).
The review, conducted by auditing and consulting firm BDO, uncovered a series of errors by the GCCF in applying its own protocols. The result is that an additional $64 million is being paid to oil spill victims across the Gulf Coast. Approximately 550 Mississippi claimants will receive an estimated total of $4.6 million. The review focused on the GCCF's accuracy and consistency in evaluating claims based on protocols developed under the direction of Kenneth Feinberg, the former GCCF Claims Administrator.
"We are pleased that our efforts to have an audit conducted of BP's GCCF fund has resulted in an additional $4.6 million for Mississippians who were damaged by the spill," said Attorney General Hood. "However, we will continue to fight to ensure that those damaged by the spill receive what they are owed."
In addition, approximately 2,600 claims were wrongfully denied based on lack of information or documentation. Attorney General Hood will ask the new court-appointed claims administrator , Pat Juneau, to address this critical problem and provide relief for these overlooked claimants. Other issues previously raised by the Gulf Coast State Attorneys General remain unaddressed, such as delays in claims processing and payment, unduly burdensome and repetitive document requests, and the GCCF's emphasis on quick and final payments in exchange for overly broad releases in violation of the Oil Pollution Act. The GCCF's failure to provide adequate relief through interim payments, required by the Oil Pollution Act, resulted in claimants under economic duress signing away all rights to future recovery.
"Even this cursory review of the GCCF's claims process unveiled mistakes made in the assessment of around 7,300 claims," said Attorney General Hood. "We need to dig deeper and conduct a genuine audit to ensure that all claimants are treated fairly in the final analysis."
Attorney General Hood will continue to pursue his investigation of Mr. Feinberg and the GCCF, and will petition the federal court overseeing the oil spill multidistrict litigation for better protection of claimants and higher recovery on behalf of all citizens and businesses injured as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Claimants identified as having been underpaid or incorrectly denied payment will be receiving checks from the GCCF or its affiliate Brown Greer by the end of next week. If claimants have questions or concerns, they are asked to call 1-800-916-4893 or 1-866-682-1758 (for TTY assistance).