Mississippi Sues BP Gulf Oil Claims Fund

By | July 13, 2011

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a lawsuit Tuesday to force Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of BP’s $20 billion fund for Gulf Coast oil spill compensation, to release documents it says it needs to ensure claimants are adequately compensated.

The complaint wants to force Feinberg and the fund, called the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, to comply with a February subpoena calling for documents related to all Mississippi claims seeking compensation from the fund, along with access to other fund communications.

According to the lawsuit, filed in Hinds County Chancery Court in Mississippi, Hood needs the information to determine whether Feinberg and the fund have violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by processing claims in an unfair or deceptive manner.

“We hope that by asking a court to open up the GCCF (Gulf Coast Claims Facility) claims process for review, we will be able to ensure that victims of last year’s oil spill are being adequately and fairly compensated for their losses,” said Hood in a statement.

The complaint asserts that the fund produced some documents the subpoena called for, but that Feinberg and the fund “failed and refused to fully comply” with it.

In an email to Reuters, Kenneth Feinberg said his office has provided Hood approximately 125 files from Mississippi claimants. “We have not heard a word back from General Hood on these claims,” Feinberg said.

Feinberg added that before the Memorial Day weekend, he and fund representatives met in Washington with members of Hood’s staff. “(We) went through a summary of the claims process,” Feinberg said. “We reviewed 13 authorized claims and went through the process as to how we determined eligibility and damages for those claims.”

In April, Hood filed a notice in New Orleans federal court seeking an independent, court-appointed audit of the fund. That matter is before Judge Carl J. Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

(Reporting by Moira Herbst; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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