The man in charge of paying BP claims for the Gulf oil spill will soon face a Florida legislative committee to answer questions about how the compensation scheme is going.
Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who is overseeing the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), is expected to face a tough round of questioning from lawmakers who serve on the House Economic Affairs Committee either this Friday or next, according to the committee staff.
House Speaker Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) has directed the committee to look into the impact of the spill on Florida residents and their livelihoods and into how claims are being handled.
House Economic Affairs Committee Chairwoman Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) has sent a letter to Feinberg confirming that he will appear before the committee.
“The Florida House of Representatives is committed to ensure that Floridians who suffered as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident and made whole,” Hukill wrote. “I look forward to your testimony and your continual cooperation in this matter.”
Hukill said that the “structure and efficiency of the BP claims process” are of “particular concern.”
The Economic Affairs Committee’s action comes just weeks after state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater asked the business community and oil spill claimants for their input regarding the GCCF’s methodology for compensating those affected by the oil spill that resulted from an April 20 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Feinberg has made public his recommendations on how the BP fund will calculate a final settlement offer to those affected by the spill. In the case of individuals, the fund projects a claimant’s 2010 wages from May through December using an average of their actual wages earned during the same time period in 2008 and 2009. The fund then subtracts any wages actually earned in 2010 to arrive at a loss wage figure, which is then multiplied by a recovery factor of two. That figure, minus any previous payments, results in the final settlement offer.
A similar formula is used to calculate a final payment to businesses.
In exchange for accepting the final settlement offer, the claimant waives all rights to sue BP, the GCCF and any other party involved with the oil spill.
In January, Atwater wrote Feinberg requesting that a representative from the department participate in developing a methodology to determine claims payments. Before unveiling the settlement methodology, Feinberg held numerous public meetings around the state, meetings that Atwater said should be taken seriously.
“Businesses and families are being asked to sign their rights away for losses they have endured because of a completely preventable disaster,” said Atwater. “Public input should not be taken lightly by Ken Feinberg or BP.”
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