Judge: BP Spill Claims Czar Not Independent

Ken Feinberg must start disclosing that he works on behalf of BP
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2011 4:20 AM CST
Judge: BP Spill Claims Czar Not Independent
Gulf Coast Claims Facility chief Ken Feinberg listens to a question Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 during a town-hall style public meeting held at the Orange Beach Recreation Center in Orange Beach, Ala.    (AP Photo/Press-Register, Bill Starling)

When Ken Feinberg doled out compensation to victims of the BP oil spill, he argued they should trust his decisions because he’s an independent party—but considering he’s getting paid by BP, that’s not entirely true, a judge ruled yesterday. Feinberg, who administrates the $20 billion compensation fund, must now stop claiming to be independent from BP. The ruling could lead more people to sue instead of accept a quick settlement, the AP reports. Lawyers for the plaintiffs called it “a good day for the thousands of victims of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy”—many of whom are still waiting for compensation or claim they did not receive enough.

Feinberg is acting on behalf of BP, after being appointed last June by both BP and the White House. His law firm was paid $850,000 a month through the middle of January, and is in the process of discussing pay moving forward. The arrangement is “a hybrid entity,” the judge said, “rather than one that is fully independent of BP.” Attorneys for many claimants have also expressed concern over the release that must be signed by those who accept final payments, agreeing not to sue any responsible party. The judge will review additional information before ruling whether that form must be changed.
(More Kenneth Feinberg stories.)

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