Two payout options presented for BP victimsFeb 8th, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: news
Some clarity on the oil spill claims process was finally made available, and the public now has until Feb. 16 to review and comment on the payout plan draft.
The seven-page document, posted on www.GulfCoastClaimsFacility.com, begins by outlining the requirements for a claim to be accepted: documentation showing a connection between financial losses, physical injury or death, and the oil spill.
Financial losses are based on a comparison of income from previous years during the same months; the negative difference equals the loss. However, there were no details on how new businesses which have no earlier income to compare with would determine their losses.
Two payment options are in the draft: final payment, which would be a onetime sum, and interim payment, which would be smaller amounts paid quarterly. The amounts with an interim payment may fluctuate depending on the economic progress made.
“For some people it might work,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. “But every claim has a different story, every claim has a different twist.
“I truly believe that for people that are comfortable accepting that, it may work,” Nungesser continued. “I think the reason they are doing it may not be the right reason. Obviously they’re trying to make these go away… I think we need to stay focused on making sure every individual, company and fisherman has the assistance they need to file their claim to get fairly compensated.”
The draft explained that the final and interim payment options entail a more “rigorous and exacting” documentation process than the emergency income payments available shortly after the spill.
Furthermore, even if a person received an emergency advance, they are not guaranteed to qualify for either final or interim payment; claims for either of these options stand alone. Merely showing a decrease in productivity or sales from 2009 to 2010 is not enough to prove causation, according to the GCCF draft.
GCCF cited research conducted by “experts” that suggests there is “a strong recovery underway,” except for oysters.
“Gradual economic recovery” – affecting tourism, commercial fishing, and shrimp and crab harvesting – is anticipated to conclude within two or three years of the oil spill, in 2012. For a final payment, these individuals and businesses will be paid double their losses from 2010.
Oyster populations are believed to require more time to bounce back, and oystermen will be offered four times their 2010 losses as a final payment.
Nungesser said he was glad to hear the oystermen were able to receive four times their losses.
The parish president said oyster harvesters were originally in the same pot as everyone else, but after several meetings between oystermen from Plaquemines and an expert working for Feinberg, adjustments were made.
Those who had upwards of $500,000 in losses in 2010 will have their final payment calculated specific to their case.
GCCF stated their research in the area will be ongoing, and the amount compensated for future losses may increase or decrease depending on their findings.
The plan does not disclose if claimants reserve the right to sue after receiving payment.
If claimants are unsatisfied with the offer for final payment, for example if the future losses factor is too uncertain, an interim payment can be selected. In this method, a smaller payment would be received every three months.
In an effort to “promote transparency and open discussion,” the public has two weeks to submit contributions and criticisms to the draft, and GCCF stated these comments would be made available to read on their website, www.GulfCoastClaimsFacility.com. The last day to make suggestions is Feb. 16. A completed draft of rules for all payment claims will then be adopted.
April 20 is the last day to file a claim due to damages caused by the oil spill.