BP Stonewalling Compensation to Gulf Residents - by Stephen Lendman
On April 23, a New York Times editorial headlined, "Quick Help for the Gulf," mocking grave environmental damage as well as affected communities and residents in typical Times cavalier fashion, saying:
BP's April 21 announced "$1 billion down payment on its obligation to restore the Gulf of Mexico to good health is such welcome news that it seems almost churlish to offer caveats" or question its motives.
In fact, BP committed America's greatest ever environmental crime, destroying the entire Gulf, as well as the welfare, livelihoods, health and futures of millions of coastal residents, a disaster perhaps no amount of money can restore, but don't expect BP even to try.
However, saying "(l)ong-term restoration is a goal we have backed ever since Hurricane Katrina," The Times dismissively suggested $1 billion "is enough for now just to get started." In fact, it's inconsequential pocket change for the incalculable human, economic and environmental toll. But don't expect Times editors to explain.
Others do, however, including Dahr Jamail, detailing Gulf "toxicity, suffering and death" on April 16, and on April 20, its "criminal negligence," discussing mounting lawsuits for what BP won't pay.
Ryan Lambert is one of many affected. Jamail quoted him saying:
"I'm seeing people starving to death and BP won't pay them....They know what they did is wrong and they still won't pay me (or most others). I'm done playing their games. All they are doing is starving people out and trying to get them to take (pocket change settlements to) give up their right to sue. I know thousands of people in the fishing industry, and I don't know one person who has been made whole yet."
In previous articles, Jamail covered similar ground, highlighting the plight of Gulf residents stonewalled by BP and Kenneth Feinberg's firm, paid nearly $1 million a month to administer compensation by denying it, a dirty expertise he developed years ago handling previous settlement cases.
An earlier article explained, saying BP established a paltry $20 billion compensation fund for victims, containing a slim $3 billion deposit, the idea being to help BP, not them. Claims czar Feinberg was appointed to assure it, a man notorious for serving wealth and power interests.
His resume includes managing a similar account for 9/11 victims, then later was appointed pay czar for bailed out Wall Street banks and other companies. Like BP ombudsman Stanley Sporkin, he's a notorious "fixer," fronting for power, not people, earlier negotiating a lawsuit settlement for Agent Orange producers, benefitting them, not affected veterans, getting $1,200 not to litigate.
He later performed similar services for AH Robins, maker of the Dalkon Shield, injuring 235,000 women with potentially lethal pelvic infections, a settlement giving most of them $725 or less.
He's now point man in charge of doing to Gulf residents what he did earlier, saving corporate criminals billions, getting victims to waive their right to sue in return for amounts too meager to matter. In a 2010 Wall Street Journal interview, he said:
"When I go to the Gulf, I hear a lot about the underground economy. 'Mr. Feinberg, I got paid $5,000 a month all cash. Do I have a claim?' Well, you have to prove your claim. There's nothing illegal about all cash business, but do you have your tax return....Do you have documentary evidence....Will your ship captain vouch for the $5,000....I need something. I can't be paying claims that can't be proven. And I can tell you that this is going to be a big issue."
Indeed it has been, reports confirming he's on BP's payroll, his mandate being to deny, deny, deny, or pay minimum amounts, mostly in lump sums, victims waiving their right to litigate, even those losing livelihoods, years of lost income, and health.
In early February 2011, Feinberg issued a report claiming, "Full economic recovery in the Gulf region is likely within two to three years" from last April. As a result, "losses in 2011 will be approximately 70% of" last year's amount. He'll thus cap payouts to twice the paltry $3.5 billion 2010 level.