Oil Spill

BP Claims Chief Advises Claimants to Avoid Court, Offer Priestly Proof

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The lawyer who will be overseeing a $20 billion compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims is acknowledging that some people don’t have tax returns to prove their lost income—but he says that won’t be the death knell for a claim.

Kenneth Feinberg is stumping for the compensation fund, boarding a BP-funded Learjet, a helicopter and SUVs to take his message to those harmed by the BP oil spill, the New York Times reports.

Feinberg told claimants they won’t need “a whole lot of corroboration” to receive emergency payments, Bloomberg reports. Have the tax returns been “lost”? There are other means of proof, he said, according to the Times account. “Do you have a profit and loss statement? Do you have a checkbook? Check stubs?” he said. “No? Well, then, tell the captain of the boat, or your priest, to vouch for you.”

Feinberg said he is determined to create a system that will be more generous than filing a lawsuit. According to the Times, he played the role of both salesman and politician as he visited locals in four Louisiana towns on Thursday.

“Despite his 64 years, Mr. Feinberg shows no sign of slowing down as he cajoles people to steer clear of the courts,” the Times said. “His campaign stops are high-energy affairs. He jabs the air, punches up words to drive home a point and gets laughs with self-deprecating references to his Boston accent. ‘It’s a campaign,’ he said. ‘It’s a road show. It’s a seminar.’ ”

Under the two-part claims process, emergency payments are available for up to six months’ worth of damages at a time. Under the second phase of the program beginning 90 days after the oil spill is stopped, claimants may be paid for economic losses if they sign waivers promising not to sue.

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