WSJ reports death settlements in BP oil spill start at $8 million
The Wall Street Journal issued a report stating that settlements with families of workers who were killed in the Deepwater Horizon oilrig explosion are in the $8 to $9 million range.
The settlements have been reached between Transocean and the families of three workers who were killed on the rig. Three other claims are before Kenneth Feinberg and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), the Journal reported.
The high payments are a result of a "Deepwater premium" in which companies responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico settle at inflated rates to avoid negative publicity, the report stated.
The report comes as several plaintiff attorneys and government officials claim that the GCCF has been too stingy with non-death related claims.
Most recently, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said that the GCCF payments "do not amount to much" and that they're "stalling the large majority of claims to a point where victims are so desperate that they settle for anything."
Last week, Feinberg appointed Louisiana State University law professor Jack Weiss to pick a group of judges who will hear "limited appeals" on claims denied by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
In February, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and Governor Bobby Jindal filed a memo criticizing the GCCF with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation.
The memo criticized the GCCF for allegedly failing to comply with the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and that claimants should not be required to relinquish their right to sue BP in exchange for a final payment.
The Louisiana legislature also expressed concern with the GCCF and has formed a special committee to oversee the claims process.
In Florida state court, a marine salvage company filed a lawsuit against Feinberg and the GCCF alleging they committed negligence and fraud in the claims process.
Attorneys for Feinberg have fired back against critics, stating the GCCF is "substantially exceeding" OPA's mandates.
BP, on the other hand, has criticized Feinberg and the GCCF for handing out payments that are too high and that there "is no credible support for adopting an artificially high future loss."
Feinberg has stated publicly that his firm's research shows that the Gulf Coast will experience a full environmental and economic recovery in 2012.
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