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BP Oil Settlement Transition From GCCF Speeds Up Settlement Payments

According to reports, the process of paying BP oil spill claims has sped up considerably in the last two weeks due to a court-appointed transition from
Kenneth Feinberg's
Gulf Coast Claims Facility to payments
based on a settlement. Sources close to the process say the transition is run by Lafayette mediator Patrick Juneau and has increased its output of claims payments four-fold since March 23, both in terms of claimants and money paid.

Reportedly, the transition process for paying claimants is largely the same as the one Feinberg ran for more than a year and a half. Sources say Feinberg paid more than 220,000 people and businesses a total of more than $6 billion on BP's behalf for economic damages caused by the April 2010 oil spill. However, sources say a settlement between BP and a group of private plaintiffs ended Feinberg's tenure. Reportedly, the plaintiffs had openly bashed Feinberg's payment methodology and what they considered his overall stinginess, but when they struck a proposed settlement with BP, they put Feinberg's top hired deputy, Virginia lawyer Lynn Greer, in charge of the transition operations.

Sources say that when Juneau took over as Greer's boss March 8 there was no interruption in the flow of claims. Reportedly, in the first two weeks, the transition process had paid just under 1,100 claimants nearly $27 million. In contrast, the transition has currently paid 5,238 claimants a total of $134 million. Legal sources say the payouts are leading to April 16, 2012, when BP and the Plaintiffs will provide the court with the terms of their final settlement. Sources close to the deal say the settlement will be an uncapped class action. BP estimates that it will spend $7.8 billion to meet those claims, but that figure could rise or fall.

Reportedly, of those paid under the transition so far, 2,264 claimants had offers pending from Feinberg that they didn't accept by Feb. 26. Under a court order, Juneau and Greer have paid them 60 percent of what Feinberg offered them and they have not had to sign away their right to sue BP. Sources say after April 16, the settlement facility will use its own process to calculate the best amount to pay those claimants and they will then have the choice of collecting the rest of what Feinberg offered or the remainder of the new calculation.

Reportedly, the Juneau transition has also resumed interim payments in the last two weeks, paying 715 claimants money to cover three months of losses, without requiring them to give up further claims. Juneau said $13 million has gone to 925 claimants who decided to take a quick payment of $25,000 for businesses or $5,000 for individuals and sign a release of further claims against BP.