Attorneys for the administrator for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility has fired back at plaintiff and government lawyers who have been critical of him, stating that the BP oil spill claims process is in full compliance with the Oil Pollution Act.
New York attorney David Pitofsky filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Kenneth Feinberg, which states any review by the court of the claims process would show the GCCF is "substantially exceeding ... all of OPA's requirements."
The brief was filed Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. It came as a response to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's request of a briefing on the GCCF for the multidistrict litigation (MDL) surrounding the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill.
Feinberg's attorneys submitted a report of more than 150 pages which includes details on his personal background and that of the GCCF and its procedural history.
The brief states that "neither OPA nor any other statute or rule empowers a court to regulate and OPA claims process," nor does OPA outline any specific way in which the claims are to be handled.
Feinberg claims that his work with the GCCF "has been and continues to be actively monitored by, among others, multiple committees of the United States Congress, the Department of Justice, the National Pollution Funds Center ... and the Governors and Attorneys General of five Gulf States."
Recently, Alabama, Mississippi Florida and Louisiana all filed memos criticizing Feinberg and the GCCF.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's memo claimed that Feinberg was not complying with OPA.
Plaintiff and government lawyers have stated that the waiver claimants are required to sign that absolves their right to sue any responsible party violates OPA statutes.
Feinberg's attorney states that the release is OPA compliant because it expressly instructs claimants not to sign it unless they fully understand it or have consulted with an attorney.
"No provision in OPA bars the GCCF Release," Pitofsky argues. "Leaving claimants able to pursue other responsible parties for damages ... would thwart OPA's intent that the responsible party claims process avoid protract litigation."
The next status conference for the BP MDL will be held Feb. 25 at the federal courthouse in New Orleans at 9:30 a.m.
Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179