Gulf Oil Spill Update - Suggestions For Those Dealing with the GCCF
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Jul 25, 2011 in Oil Spill
Our Law Firm continues to represent individuals, small businesses, fishermen and oystermen with losses as a result of the Gulf Oil Spill. We represent claimants before the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and also in Court Proceedings in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Today an important filing was made.
In this filing efforts are made to bring to the attention of Judge Barbier the unfairness of how BP has handled the Interim Payment Process. In a nutshell, the brief establishes that the GCCF and BP have violated the Oil Pollution Act by failing to implement a fair Interim Claim Process. It is well supported by statistics, affidavits and news accounts. The brief alleges that BP's failure to make timely Interim Payment Claims as required by OPA essentially forces claimants to take lowball quick-pay settlement offers ($5,000 for individuals and/or $25,000.00 for businesses). A couple of statistics are noteworthy:
(i) As of December 2010, Less than 13.6% of Interim claimants have been paid, yet about 95% of quick claim payments had been made. "Statistics clearly indicate that the GCCF is paying quick pay claims and not paying interim claims..." Brief p. 5.
(ii) Only 36% of all GCCF claimants have received any compensation at all from GCCP or BP.
(iii) As of June 1, 2011 there were 514,263 GCCF Claimants. Of 139,950 Final Payments issued, 114,482 were Quick Payments ($25K or $5K) and 25,468 were fully reviewed.
For any small businesses and/or oyster lease holders out there--here are a few tips:
1. At a minimum, be sure to consult with a lawyer before accepting a Final Settlement Offer and Signing a Release. We are seeing a lot of individuals and small business owners who are settling their claims for pennies on the dollar. It is important that you consult with a lawyer to understand what damages you may be entitled to, and if you are accepting a settlement it's important to understand the legal rights you may be giving up. Remember, you can continue to get interim payments without having to sign a release.
2. If you disagree with your Final Settlement Offer from the GCCF or believe that it just was not calculated properly, a lawyer can help obtain a recalculation. We have successfully obtained recalculations for several of our clients that resulted in a significant amount of increased compensation. We have seen inconsistencies in how GCCF Accountants are doing their calculations and it is important to ask questions, and understand how your 2010 lost profits were calculated.
3. If you receive a settlement offer, DO NOT ASSUME THAT GCCF CALCULATED YOUR LOSSES PROPERLY. We have seen many settlement offers where 2010 lost profits were improperly and/or unfairly calculated by the GCCF.
4. If you receive a deficiency letter from the GCCF it is important to respond to it in a timely and professional manner. Failure to do so will result in a delay in payment of your claim, or possibly even in a denial of your claim.
5. Oyster lease holders should NOT SETTLE WITH GCCF YET. We have reason to believe that a revised compensation formula will be published by Ken Feinberg and the GCCF in the very near future that will SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE COMPENSATION FOR OYSTER LEASE HOLDERS. That is not to say that what the GCCF offers to oyster lease holders will be fair compensation. Unfortunately, BP and the GCCF continue to only look at the economic lost profits of oyster lease holders and they are not yet taking into consideration that it is damage to real property that has a separate legal significance. ALL OYSTER LEASE HOLDERS SHOULD--IN OUR OPINION-RETAIN AN ATTORNEY TO BE SURE THAT THEY ARE PROPERLY COMPENSATED. It is quite possible that the best outcome for oyster lease holders will be through the MDL litigation and not through the GCCF. Oyster lease holders should discuss their particular situation with an attorney.