Feinberg's lawyers respond again to GCCF critics; claim Barbier has no authority over process
Alejandro de los Rios Apr. 13, 2011, 12:00pm
Attorneys for Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) administrator Kenneth Feinberg have filed a second formal response to critics in the BP oil spill multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Filed by New York City attorneys David Pitofsky and William Sheehan yesterday in federal court in New Orleans, the response states that the GCCF process "is working effectively" and the court has no authority to intervene.
The memo comes as a response to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's request that U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing the BP MDL, intervene in the GCCF and audit the oil spill claims process.
"The court does not have the power under the Oil Pollution Act to impose upon the GCCF the monitoring sought by the attorney general," Pitofsky wrote.
Any court intervention would "chill the ability of GCCF personnel to work expeditiously without fear of running afoul of an independent auditor," the memo claims.
Hood's request for intervention is the latest in a long line of criticism launched at the GCCF by Gulf State attorneys general, governors and plaintiff lawyers.
In March, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange wrote a memo that said the GCCF payments "do not amount to much" and Alabama residents have been "reduced to begging for handouts from an organization ... whose primary missions seems to be turning them down."
Feinberg's attorneys fired back against critics who say the GCCF has given out too few payments since it was established.
"To date, in just nine months of operation, the GCCF has paid almost $4 billion to over 174,000 claimants in honoring approximately 300,000 claims," it states. "In the face of such overwhelming statistics, the [Mississippi] Attorney General's naked claims of malfeasance ... must be summarily dismissed."
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 that they committed negligence and fraud in the claims process.
Conversely, BP 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."
Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179