Judge Barbier rocks! Rules “claims czar not independent of BP”

The administrator of the $20 billion compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims is not independent from BP and must stop telling potential claimants that he is, a federal judge said in a ruling Wednesday that…cuts at the heart of one of Feinberg’s central arguments that because he’s independent people…should trust his decisions.

Barbier said Feinberg must clearly disclose in all communications that he is acting for and on behalf of BP in fulfilling its obligations as the responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act.

According to the AP story, “Barbier stopped short of ordering changes to a release form people who accept final payments from the fund must sign”:

He asked lawyers to submit additional briefs to the court on that, as well as address the question of whether BP is fully complying with the law in the processing of claims…

Barbier ordered all sides to issue additional briefs by Feb. 11 addressing the question of “whether and how BP as the responsible party is fully complying with the mandates of OPA, for example, in the processing of claims for ‘interim, short-term damages,’ or ‘final damages,’ methodologies for evaluation of claims, and the release forms required of claimants.”

It’s never too late to post good news; but, for more tonight, read the AP story.