Florida CFO Seeks Claimants’ Feedback on BP Oil Claims

February 16, 2011

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is asking the state’s business community and BP oil spill claimants for their input regarding the claims handling process of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Specifically, Atwater wants to hear suggestions or concerns about the proposed methodology to compensate business and individuals who were affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, which resulted from an April 20 explosion that destroyed a BP-lease oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ken Feinberg, BP claims administrator, recently made public his recommendations on how to calculate a final settlement offer to individuals and businesses affected by the spill. In the case of individuals, the fund projects a claimant’s 2010 wages from May through December using an average of their actual wages earned during the same time period in 2008 and 2009. The fund then subtracts any wages actually earned in 2010 to arrive at a loss wage figure which is then multiplied by a recovery factor of two. That figure, minus any previous payments, results in the final settlement offer.

A similar formula is used to calculate a final payment to businesses.

In exchange for accepting the settlement offer, the claimant waives all rights to sue BP, the GCCF and any other party involved with the oil spill.

In January, Atwater wrote Feinberg requesting that a representative from the department participate in the process of developing a methodology to determine claims payments. Before unveiling the settlement methodology Feinberg held numerous public meetings around the state, meetings that Atwater said should be taken seriously.

“Listening to the feedback and concerns and fighting for Floridians is a priority for me,” said Atwater. “Businesses and families are being asked to sign their rights away for losses they have endured because of a completely preventable disaster. Public input should not be taken lightly by Ken Feinberg or BP

Last week, a federal judge in Louisiana signaled that Feinberg and the GCCF, which he said have wrongly claimed to be independent of BP, could be subject to court oversight.

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