Fed­eral court takes over BP’S Gulf oil-spill claims

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

NEW OR­LEANS | The man who has over­seen the long, complicated job of pay­ing out bil­lions of dol­lars to the vic­tims of the BP oil spill was re­lieved of his du­ties Thurs­day when a fed­eral court took over the claims process in the af­ter­math of a his­toric set­tle­ment agree­ment.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Carl Bar­bier’s or­der calls for a court-ap­pointed ad­min­is­tra­tor to take over from the Gulf Coast Claims Fa­cil­ity led by Ken­neth R. Fein­berg, who pre­vi­ously over­saw a com­pen­sa­tion fund for the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

The move is part of a pro­posed multi­bil­lion-dol­lar set­tle­ment be­tween BP and plain­tiffs’ at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing more than 100,000 in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses.

“It was a dif­fi­cult as­sign­ment, but I think we ful­filled our man­date,” Mr. Fein­berg said. “I think we did the job and we did it right.”

BP agreed to pay up to $20 bil­lion to com­pen­sate com­mer­cial fish­er­men, char­ter cap­tains, prop­erty own­ers, ho­tels and oth­ers who claim they suf­fered eco­nomic losses af­ter the spill. The GCCF has pro­cessed about 221,300 claims and paid out more than $6 bil­lion from the fund.

The judge ap­pointed Lynn Greer, a Rich­mond-based at­tor­ney, to fill in for Mr. Fein­berg and serve as tran­si­tion co­or­di­na­tor. Pa­trick Juneau, a Lafayette, La.,-based at­tor­ney, will take over and serve as the court-ap­pointed ad­min­is­tra­tor for eco­nomi­closs claims if Judge Bar­bier gives pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval to the set­tle­ment an­nounced last Fri­day. of Alabama’s tough new law tar­get­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion pend­ing the out­come of law­suits that seek to over­turn the law en­tirely.

The 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals is­sued an or­der tem­po­rar­ily halt­ing a sec­tion that says courts can’t en­force con­tracts in­volv­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants and an­other that makes it a felony for an il­le­gal im­mi­grant to do busi­ness with the state.

The law adopted last year was chal­lenged by both the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and a coali­tion of ac­tivist groups. A three-judge panel of the 11th Cir­cuit heard ar­gu­ments last week but said it won’t rule on the over­all case un­til the U.S. Supreme Court de­cides a fed­eral chal­lenge to a sim­i­lar law in Ari­zona.

Alabama At­tor­ney Gen­eral Luther Strange said he strongly dis­agrees with the court’s decision.

“I will con­tinue to vig­or­ously de­fend Alabama’s im­mi­gra­tion law in the courts,” he said. “I am hopeful that the Supreme Court’s com­ing decision in the Ari­zona case will make clear that our law is con­sti­tu­tional.”

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