BP Issues Final Payment to Just One of 91K Spill Victims

$10M final settlement payment went to undisclosed firm
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2011 1:54 PM CST
BP Issues Final Payment to Just One of 91K Spill Victims
In this May 5, 2010 file photo, oil dispersant and a sheen are seen on top of the water off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.   (AP Photo/The Houma Courier, Matt Stamey, File)

BP's compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims has issued a final settlement payment—to just one of the roughly 91,000 people and businesses waiting for checks, records show. And that $10 million payout went to a company after the oil giant intervened on its behalf. BP won't identify the business, citing confidentiality, but acknowledges it lobbied for the settlement. The amount far exceeds smaller stop-gap payments that some individuals and businesses have received while they wait for their own final settlements.

Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of BP's $20 billion compensation fund, said today that BP struck an outside deal with the business and told the fund to make the payment. "We never reviewed the claim," Feinberg added. "We honored the request of the parties to fund the claim." Feinberg, whose law firm is paid about $850,000 a month by BP, has faced repeated criticism from lawmakers, plaintiffs attorneys, and claimants who complain about a lack of transparency and independence from BP, as well as claims being shortchanged and paid too slowly, or not at all. "It makes me sick," said a shrimper and oysterman who filed a claim for losses of about $140,000 that is under review. "It's just criminal." (More BP oil spill stories.)

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