Speaking at a luncheon during a Louisiana State Bar Association symposium, attorney Mike Rozen asked for patience from attorneys because the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) he's helping oversee has definitely "made mistakes" and "will continue to make mistakes" in processing claims.
Rozen's words came during a speech at the Louisiana Bar's 10th Annual Class Action/Mass Tort Symposium held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. He repeated the assertion that the claims process is not perfect and mistakes have been made, but encouraged attorneys and anyone seeking claims to resubmit if they feel they were wrongfully rejected.
The informal speech – Rozen pointed out that he had no prepared remarks – also shed light on the new stage of claims by the GCCF. Recently, fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg announced that now people can submit "interim claims" and "final claims."
Rozen said that there is little difference between "interim claims" and the original "emergency claims" other than terminology and the fact that claimants will be restricted to one claim per quarter. He also said people looking for closure might prefer the "final claim," which involves signing away the right to sue BP or any other company associated with the oil spill.
On Monday, Feinberg announced the addition of a third "quick pay" option for claimants who have already received an emergency payment. The new quick pay offer gives personal claimants $5,000 and business claimants $25,000 if they are willing to waive their right to sue.
Feinberg stated that claimants who've received emergency payments have the option to file for "quick", "interim" or "final payments" depending on how they assess their situation.
Rozen encouraged attorneys to e-mail him with any questions they have about claims and said that he and his staff are working to cooperate with all claimants. Rozen went as far as giving out his work email, adding, "you can find it on the Internet if you think I'm lying."
For the most part, Rozen said, the claims process has been slowed down by lack of necessary paperwork submitted by people filing claims. He said that people must make sure to include all their income and tax information, but that the average person shouldn't feel like they need to seek expert advice in calculating what their claim should be.
Rozen is a partner with Feinberg Rozen LLP in New York, the firm appointed by the federal government to oversee the $20 billion BP oil spill claims fund. The firm was also charged with settling claims for 9/11 victims.
To date, more 460,000 claims have been filed, with just more than 166,000 of those being approved for payment. The GCCF has paid out $2.47 billion dollar in claims. With roughly $1.04 billion going to individuals and the rest handed out to businesses.