Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More than 100,000 BP oil disaster claims denied since Thanksgiving

More than 100,000 BP oil disaster claims denied since Thanksgiving

feinberg_hopeSince Thanksgiving, more than 100,000 emergency claims from Gulf Coast residents and business have been denied by Ken Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
Feinberg’s facility administers the $20 billion fund established by BP to compensate individuals and businesses for economic losses caused by the oil disaster.  Feinberg has spoken of “generous” settlements and quick turnaround on claims, but many locals find fault with his process, especially now that so many claims have been turned down en masse over the past several days.  

All in all, Feinberg has denied 173,000 emergency claims, and compensated 158,000 (though often not at the full amount requested), totaling more than $2.3 billion paid out so far. 80,000 more emergency claims remain under review, and will be approved or denied by December 15th.
November 23rd was the deadline for filing these short-term emergency claims, which cover up to 6 months of lost income.  Feinberg waited until after that deadline to reject more than 100,000 claims that had been "under review," which explains the surge in rejected claims since then.
Michelle Chauncey is one of those denied claimants.  She owns Michelle’s Crab Shack in Westwego, Louisiana, which has been out of business since the end of May. 
michelleMichelle Chauncey.
After filing a claim on October 4th, she waited for two months, knowing only that it was “under review.”  Last week, Michelle's claim was denied because of “insufficient documentation,” which Feinberg cites as a major cause for rejecting claims.

But many claimants counter that the documentation requirements are onerous, especially given that many fishermen deal in cash.
I met Michelle, who also works for the group Louisiana Bayoukeeper, at the Rally for Truth on Grand Isle, Louisiana.  At the rally, Gulf Coast citizens spoke out about how the BP oil disaster continues to harm their health, families, ecosystems, and communities. Many voiced frustration and anger with the Feinberg process, echoing stories of denied claims, waiting in limbo for "under review" claims, or receiving paltry settlements.
Diane and Glen “Duddy” Poche, who have been shrimpers in Lafitte, Louisiana for 40 years, received a settlement of just $600 to cover six months of losses, after requesting $135,000.  Diane estimates she made thirty emails and forty phone calls to Feinberg’s Facility, but didn't receive an explanation for the measly settlement. She even asked Feinberg himself at a public meeting, and he said could not explain the $600 settlement.
diane_duddy Diane and Duddy Poche
Shortly after the meeting with Feinberg the Poches received another check, this one for $12,000.  

Still, Diane says this falls far short of their needs.  They had anticipated making $200,000 this summer.  Instead they’re trying to stretch $13,000 from the claims process until May, when they can go trawling again (if the harvest rebounds from the oil and toxins in the Gulf, that is). “Now they’re harassing me to do a final settlement,” Diane says.
Unlike the emergency claims for which Michelle and the Poches filed, the final settlements cover projected future losses beyond 6 months, but require people to sign away their rights to sue BP.  As the short-term emergency settlements come to a close, the facility will turn to processing final settlements, and also interim payments, which cover three months of lost earnings at a time and do not require a legal waiver.
som_betty_darleneSom, Betty, and Darlene of Grand Isle.
Back at the rally, Betty and Darlene, Grand Isle residents, are enjoying some fried turkey, sitting on the bumper of the “Tar Ball Express” (a FEMA trailer turned roving community billboard adorned with phrases like, “Stop feedin’ folks jumbo lies”).  These women make their living cleaning camps (seasonal homes for vacationers and recreational fishermen) on Grand Isle.  Both filed claims with Feinberg, after seeing a significant drop in business over the summer.  Darlene’s claim was denied.  Betty received $6,000 in compensation, compared to her projected (BP-oil-disaster-free) summer income of $20,000.

  Stories like these go on and on. “We’re all named different names, but it’s all the same story,” Michelle Chauncey says.
Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association says the problems with the fund are “purposeful.”  He is particularly concerned about the final settlements that require people to sign away their future rights to sue.  “They’re trying to force people into final settlements,” Guidry says, to allow, “BP, and all the other [companies]... Transocean, Halliburton, to walk away with no responsibility.  I think that’s criminal.”
Those who have been denied for emergency claims can still apply for final and interim settlements.   But it remains to be seen how many will be able to come up with additional documentation, or will willingly reenter such a frustrating process.  Even before her claim was denied, Michelle Chauncey was fed-up with having to, “fill out paperwork, beg for claims,” when all she wants to do is earn money herself, like she did every summer for 18 years before BP destroyed her business.
Ada McMahon's picture
Ada McMahon


  1. I am one of those 100,000 people, found out this morning I was denied after waiting 7 months.

    What can we do?

  2. And to think these stupid people still have gas stations everywhere I think they should be all shut down their is plenty of other places to get gas from I think the gov should step up and just flat out break them.

  3. My business took one huge beating by BP. I just started my business early this year before the oil spill, and put tons of hard working time to start making $8,ooo a month. 7 days after Christmas I may be on a very realistic verge on being homeless... my Son's birthday is 2 days before Christmas, He will turn 6 years old, and now because of that spill in the gulf; I have Christmas tree with nothing under it, had to start selling things that I had for years to put food on the table. My business is an honest hard working business (Eco Surplus, LLC.) in Louisiana, where I clean and repair boats, like scrimping boats, fishing boats, and ext. I am so broke now I cannot even buy "BP" gas to put in my vehicle to go to work. I hope pay czar Kenneth Feinberg with the GCCF helps me with my claim that’s still "under review".
    We did not ask for this oil spill, but we will ask for money to help us strength to survive though this event, that’s me, my family, my ecosystem, my culture, and my business, and my livelihood, my civilization. (A part of our freedom was violated)
    I am not amused on being treated like a statistic, especially when me and my family, and my people suffer, and wait.
    I live in America, and all it took was some British Petroleum, to flip my world upside down. I will not give up, and I believe in the hard work of the people like our “forefathers”.
    America is not a statistic; it’s a civilization of men and women that value this great country. We need help, and instead we get a circus act with dead wildlife. I think the people have rights to not only their claim, but the country they truly love, respect, and honor. America is no fool, and America heart will beat on forever, and ever. Because we or one nation under God, inadvisable, with liberty, and justice for all. This will not be an end to a future of people, but a start to a new beginning, if they (the GCCF) can and will help the people. Not a great business strategy to get a bunch of people upset and in limbo. Even amongst the lambs, there are lions that have no fear of voicing their opinion. Its our right as American’s, and as for as the food from the gulf, I do not think it is safe yet to feed me or my family; just look what makes up the dispersants that was sprayed in the gulf, it contains poisonous chemicals, that’s extremely toxic to all living creatures.
    This spill is not the American peoples fault, have a heart, and Merry Christmas. I see the big business gets tax’s breaks, bail outs, while the small business just gets broke, by big business expenses.
    “Yes we can”, do better.
    -American Citizen, Terry Fallon, Jr.

  4. The Bp claim process has not lived up to the rules of the law and also the rules of handling claims in the right manner. They are rudly conflicting people lives in sake of there own gain. They denied the 100,000 people based on timing and the thought of why give people money. They screwed that many people to force them to submitt a final claim. This is called the bp claim process. Lawyeres no exactly what fubird and company are doing. They are picking and chosing people not based on legitment claims but based on a and b colums. Clamit a and b can have the exact same claim and identical information submitted and they look at the claims like this. Well lets see claim a will get paid and we will trash claim b in tell them his/her claim is denied based on inproper or not enough information to support his/her claim. Thats the easiest way to screw claimet b because who cares. This is something to think about if you have received a final claim payment. You live in a hurican area where its a given that one will at less happen once a year in the hurican determind area. If you do decied to take a final claim like a unwise american; than tnink about purchising home insurance. The reason why i say this if a catogary 5 hit and the oil happens to apper in your city from the gulf and you took a final claim. Guess what bp ows u nothing because you took a final claim. To me and the others who where denied after thanksgiving and had proper and a legit claim. Please take the time to research before you let these people force you into a final claim when you are suppost to receive your final claim.
    Thanks and I am sorry these people are trying to screw us. Dont be fooled my conrades because news flash there is plenty of oil out there and dont eat seafood.

    Thankyou:The Claim exposer

  5. Thank you for your wise words, Claim Exposer!

  6. I too work at a Hotel right on the water in Alabama. My claim was "Under review" for 2 months then on Dec. 13th i called and was told i had been denied. I asked them why, and they said they could not say. They told me i would get a letter in the mail explaining why. Well that was 4 days ago, and still no letter. So i called today and this rep. could tell me why for some reason. She told me i lacked documentation. I asked her why i was not made aware of this when i asked everytime i called (which was everyday) She told me she didn't know, and that the call center has nothing to do with them. UMMMM Who is THEM??? Are we not talking to a GCCF rep. when we call?? This whole process is a joke. Most people will probably give up. I know i feel like it. I am so upset. I just don't understand what more documentation they could have needed. I sent in check stubs,w-2's, written letters ect...I pray for everyone that is going through this horrible process of waiting, then being denied. I am so sorry.

  7. I too have been "under review" for months. I have had no new information since October. I filed my claim in July. I am not lacking any documentation, nor are they claiming as such. I have had to move in with family now and my car was repossessed this week. I am going to sell what possessions I have left to provide my four year old with a little Christmas. I have finally lost all hope.

  8. I am a small business owner on the Gulf. I waited over two months and was denied on Dec 14. I had over 300 pages of documentation going back to 2007. My accountant and attorney are dumbfounded at the denial. I was told by two GCCF U frontmen in person at the "claim center" that I was part of a MASS DENIAL to make the Dec 15 deadline. They would not give that to me in writing.

    I have asked GCCF U why my claim was denied and they said that I did not show a loss.

    The govenors office cannot help, the state reps cannot help, the Attorney General cannot help. THEY ARE AS DUMBFOUNDED AS I AM.

    Im trying to find out what to do. I have contacted Attorney's General in two states. They do not know what to do either but are very aware of the issue and are fighting to get answers from GCCF U without any progress. GCCF U says to get an attorney. That is an insult. We need help from the media.


    I will post here with any new info. Please do the same. GCCF U is not going to destroy my business and my family!!!!!!!!!!


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