Louisiana state House and Senate leadership announced that a special committee has been assigned to oversee the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) and its claims process.
Chaired by Rep. Walter Leger III (D-New Orleans), the committee comes after complaints from Louisiana residents expressing frustration with Ken Feinberg, the GCCF administrator, and the overall claims process.
Louisiana State Senate President Joel Chaisson II (D-Destrehan) said that there has been "significant dissatisfaction with the way the claims process has been handled" among his constituents.
Chaisson appointed State Senators A.G. Crowe (R-Slidell), J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans), Edwin Murray (D-New Orleans) and Butch Gautreaux (D-Morgan City) to the committee.
The committee will have the power of subpoena but will not be able to force Feinberg or the GCCF to change its claims process.
Feinberg has come under fire from all sides for the way the GCCF has handled the claims process.
In early February, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who presides over oil spill litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana, ruled that Feinberg "cannot be considered 'neutral' or totally 'independent' of BP."
Most recently, Barbier has heard arguments for and against the GCCF being compliant with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
Several plaintiff lawyers and state attorneys general have claimed that the GCCF violates OPA with its requirement that claimants release their rights to sue BP or other responsible parties in exchange for final payments.
Attorneys for Feinberg have fired back against critics, stating the GCCF is "substantially exceeding" OPA's mandates.
Feinberg and the GCCF has also been sued in Florida atate court.
Tampa attorney Brian Donovan filed a 42-page lawsuit claiming that the GCCF has committed negligence and fraud.
Federal MDL 2:10-md-2179