BP oil disaster claims czar Kenneth Feinberg entered a shooting gallery of questions along the Gulf Coast last week, facing crowds of angry oil victims asking why they haven't been paid and how long will it take to get reimbursed.
Hundreds crowded auditoriums over a two-day Gulf tour to voice their frustration.
Feinberg held town hall-style meetings in Grand Isle and Lafitte as well as in Mississippi and Alabama. Locals' requests for assistance likely didn't help much: Feinberg announced he wouldn't change the controversial form that claimants must sign to receive compensation — by signing it, the claimants waive their right to sue BP and dozens of other companies for the disaster, the effects of which are far from over.
Feinberg also toured the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) office in Gretna. Feinberg representative Camille Biros told Gambit that five employees with Baton Rouge's Long Law Firm and eight employees from Lutcher, La.-based Hammerman and Gainer claims administration company are assisting GCCF offices in Louisiana and Florida, helping claimants with payment resolution issues. The employees report directly back to Feinberg Rozen, the firm Feinberg leads. Another Feinberg spokesperson, Debra DeShong Reed, said the firms' jobs are to "staff local claims offices ... so there are live bodies on the scene to help claimants deal with questions about their claims."
Assisting some meetings in Louisiana was former congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao, who now assists GCCF as a liaison to the Vietnamese community by helping to bridge the language gap and assist Vietnamese fisherman and businesses.
Cao infamously called out BP America president Lamar McKay last June after members of congress called for Mackay's resignation. "Well, in the Asian culture we do things differently," Cao said during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on oil drilling safety. "During the samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri." — Alex Woodward