Mississippi AG seeks to remedy deficiencies of BP oil spill victim fund

[JURIST] Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood [official website] on Tuesday requested that the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] order the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) [official website] to fulfill its legal obligations to aid victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in the Gulf of Mexico. Hood is seeking a federal judge to direct Kenneth Feinberg [WP profile], administrator of the $20 billion fund established by British Petroleum (BP) [corporate website] in the wake of the disaster, to remedy inadequate claims mechanisms and expedite the processes. The filing alleges that Feinberg has yet to establish a claims process [Reuters report] consistent with the standards outlined in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 [materials], state laws and the company's earlier promises. Hood contends that the $3.3 billion GCCF has paid to individual and business claimants represents only a fraction of the victims seeking relief and the damages claimed, and that monitoring the process is significantly inhibited by a lack of transparency.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill [official website] released its full final report [text; JURIST report] earlier this month, tracing the deeper root causes of the spill and recommending steps to avoid future incidents. In October, several environmental advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] against BP for the ongoing harm to endangered and threatened wildlife caused by the spill. The GCCF, an independent facility, began processing claims in August following the completion of negotiations [JURIST reports] between BP and the US Department of Justice [official website]. Alabama Attorney General Troy King [official website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in August against BP for damages to the state's coast and economy, claiming that the oil giant has failed in its efforts to accept responsibility for the oil spill. In July, a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] was filed against the company in a Louisiana state court alleging that its negligent actions led to the spill and that BP was further negligent in its oversight of the cleanup effort, resulting in volunteers falling ill due to inadequate protective equipment. In June, two lawsuits were filed against BP [JURIST report] alleging violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) [18 USC § 1961 et seq.] statute. The lawsuits allege that BP purposefully defrauded the American public in order to increase company profits. Also in June, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced that the DOJ is reviewing whether any civil or criminal laws were violated [JURIST report] by BP resulting in the oil spill.

 

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