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Feinberg: Gulf Claims Process ‘Has Not Gone as Fast as I Hoped’

The claims process in the Gulf Coast “has not gone as fast as I had hoped,” Kenneth Feinberg told an angry crowd in Louisiana, according to The New York Times.

Feinberg, the independent administrator charged with doling out the $20 billion BP set aside for compensating victims of the Gulf oil spill, has acknowledged that progress with the claims process has been slow. But he reassured victims of the oil spill this week that they will be paid.

Feinberg is in the process of coming up with new, more lenient rules on approves claims so that oil spill victims aren’t forced to engage in a protracted legal battle with BP to get paid. As our sister-publication, The Florida Independent, reported yesterday, Feinberg plans to loosen his standard of geographic proximity to the spill.

According to the story:

Although plans have not yet been finalized, Feinberg said claimants such as hotels in Miami and Jacksonville should be able to submit their claims for review without formally filing them. Then, someone — or perhaps a dedicated committee — from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility would review the claim and try to come up a with way to resolve it, either through the facility or some separate arrangement akin to the fund Feinberg created to compensate the real estate industry.

At the same time, the Times reports that Feinberg, who had previously said it was unnecessary to hire lawyers to guide victims through the claims process, said that lawyers can assists people in filing adequate claims. “I am increasingly of the view as I go forward with this program that the lawyers around this country can play a very valuable role,” he said, according to the Times.

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