Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

AL Gov. Bob Riley to BP: No lawsuit waiver on final oil spill claims

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Does it come as any surprise that the Multinational Corporation BP has no allegiance or loyalty to anyone or anything save their profit, executive compensation and shareholder payouts?

And yet – as astute observers note – politics makes strange bedfellows. Appointed by President Obama, Administrator Feinberg is being paid by BP in excess of $10 Million annually. But… would Democrats have expected this kind of “favor for the people” from their president?

Pressure on Kenneth Feinberg to disclose BP pay deal
By Moira Herbst
NEW YORK | Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:03am IST
(Reuters Legal) – There has never been anything quite like Kenneth Feinberg’s $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Established to compensate victims of the BP Plc(BP.L) oil disaster, it essentially invests one man with full power over how the money is distributed, while he is being paid by the company and unsupervised by any government body.

Gov. Bob Riley: No lawsuit waiver on final oil spill claims

Published: Saturday, December 11, 2010, 5:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 11, 2010, 12:06 PM
by Dan Murtaugh, Mobile Press-Register

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has urged BP PLC and President Barack Obama to make sure that Gulf Coast residents don’t have to sign liability waivers to accept claims payments.

Oil spill claims czar Ken Feinberg recently launched the second stage of his claims process, in which he will offer people final settlements or interim quarterly payments.

The final settlements require the claimant to sign a release and covenant not to sue BP and other parties, while the interim payments do not.

In letters to the president and to BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley, Riley said that the waiver that people are being asked to sign upon their acceptance of a final settlement from Ken Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility is “over-broad and simply unconscionable.”

Riley’s complaints are that the release:
•    Waives liability not just for BP, but for “anyone who is or could be responsible or liable in any way for the incident.”
•    Requires the claimant to promise that his spouse, heirs, parents, partners and others won’t sue on his or his affiliates’ behalf.
•    Frees BP and others from all claims and liabilities, not just those covered by the claims facility.

“If BP wishes to disclaim responsibility for this outrageous demand, the simple and credible response would be to tell Mr. Feinberg not to do it,” Riley said in the letter to Dudley. “If BP believes it is entitled to this unfair advantage, then stop telling the victims of your oil spill that you are going to tirelessly ‘make this right.’”

Feinberg, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. BP and the White House could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft, when told of Riley’s request to rid the final claims process of the release, said that the interim claims option is enough to ensure protection for claimants’ rights.

“I don’t know that it’s reasonable to ask for a final claim without releasing them,” Craft said.

Riley is joining a large chorus of public officials who have criticized the Feinberg’s liability release.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King has attacked the idea of a release of liability since it was first proffered in the summer. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Monday said he believes that the language in the waiver is unfair. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perrelli criticized the release last month because it required people to release BP from behavioral health claims, although the claims operation is not writing checks for those.

Feinberg responded to Perrelli’s criticism by amending the waiver to stipulate that it does not apply to claims for bodily injury.

Riley wants Feinberg to take it a step further.

“BP should instruct Mr. Feinberg not to require releases for claims payments, including payments characterized as ‘final,’” Riley said in his letter to Dudley. “If a release is absolutely necessary, write one that is limited to the person making the claim, the company paying the claim, the damages asserted in the claim, and the information available as of submission of the final claim.”

Feinberg took over the claims process for individuals and businesses on Aug. 23. He plans to end on Wednesday the first phase of the operation, in which he made emergency payments worth up to six months of losses without requiring any waiver. He has given out more than $2.4 billion in emergency payments across the Gulf Coast.

•    Gov. Bob Riley’s letter to President Obama
•    Gov. Bob Riley’s Letter to BP
•    Release and covenant not to sue

BP Release And Covenant Not To Sue

AL Gov letter to President Obama

AL Gov Riley letter to BP

2 Responses to “AL Gov. Bob Riley to BP: No lawsuit waiver on final oil spill claims”

  1. John Wilder said

    It is customary in civil litigation to require a lien waiver on final settlement. This is nothing new and resolves the issue. Otherwise it could be tied up in courts for years.

    Mr. Fienbergs credibility is unquestioned and he did an outstanding job of the 9-11 victims and no one is claiming that he settled with the families absolutely fairly.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Thanks for reading, and for your comments, John! What seems especially problematic is the lack of regualtory oversight. And yet, there are apparently problems which have yet unknown consequences. To ignore them by prematurely closing them would be egregiousness of the first order.


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