"I just got off the phone with Feinberg's people and I'm really upset," says seafood merchant Michelle Chauncey from Barataria, Louisiana.
Her business, which sells wholesale and retail crabs, has not provided her with an income since the end of May, and her home is being foreclosed.
Attorney Kenneth Feinberg's Washington-based firm, Feinberg Rozen,
has been paid $850,000 a month by BP to administer a $20bn compensation
fund and claims process for Gulf residents and fishermen affected by the
Deepwater Horizon explosion last April.
The Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which Feinberg manages, was set up after negotiations between BP and the Obama administration, but over recent months there has been growing concern among the Coast's residents that Feinberg is limiting compensation funds to claimants in order to decrease BP's liability.
Late last month, Feinberg told Bloomberg Television that he anticipates that about half of the $20bn fund should be enough to cover claims for economic losses.
"It remains to be seen, but I would hope that half that money would be more than enough to pay all the claims," he said.
Chauncey is angry.
"[Kenneth] Feinberg told me personally I had a legitimate claim, and
that he was going to personally look into my claim and see why I wasn't
being paid," she explains, adding that one of Feinberg's colleagues gave
her his personal number and promised to help.
"I told Feinberg's man that I know strippers who have gotten money. So if I took off my clothes ... and worked in a bar, I'd have been paid, but since I have a seafood business I haven't been paid.
"The really sad part is that my story is not isolated," Chauncey adds. "There are loads of us, and they are all in the same predicament as I am."
Rudy Toler from Gulfport, Mississippi is a fourth generation
fisherman. He submitted 62 pages of documentation to the GCCF, but says:
"My claim got denied on December 4, with about 100,000 other people."
The GCCF, which also covers cleanup and remediation costs, has received more than 468,000 claims and has paid about $2.7bn to approximately 170,000 claimants (about one-third of those who have submitted claims) in the last four months.
Most of the claims that have been paid are temporary emergency payments.
"You've paid 30 per cent of the claims," Gulf Shores City councilman Jason Dyken told Feinberg at a recent meeting in Gulf Shores, Alabama. "Seventy per cent of the claims have not been paid. Where I went to school that's an 'F'."
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