Attorney General Hood wants “whistleblowers” backing up his argument to Judge Barbier

SLABBED reported Judge Barbier’s rockin’ Order and Reasons in Judge Barbier rocks! Rules “claims czar not independent of BP”, including his requirement that all parties file additional briefs by Friday of this week. (Order and Reasons follow in scribd format below)

McClatchy News has a story – Mississippi AG: BP spill victims got ‘stiff-armed’ on claims – indicating Barbier’s rockin’ had AG Hood rollin’ out a call for whistleblowers:

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood wants to hear from whistle-blowers with inside information about how the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is operating.

Hood believes GCCF administrator Ken Feinberg “stiff-armed” claimants on emergency and interim claims because they required no release of the right to sue BP and other parties responsible for the April 2010 Gulf oil catastrophe. When claimants grew desperate, Hood believes, GCCF rolled out final payments that do require waiving the right to sue.

“They’re not following the law,” Hood said. “They’re just trying to coerce people into signing these releases”…

As SLABBED has repeatedly mentioned, Hood learned all he needed to know about “waiving the right to sue” from the MID mediation program that “stiff armed” State Farm policyholder claimants in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

IMO, that lesson accounts for his current insistence that there is no relationship between the number and amount of paid claims and the integrity of the claims process!

Anyone heard a whistle blow?

(Judge Barbier’s Order and Reasons below the jump) Continue reading “Attorney General Hood wants “whistleblowers” backing up his argument to Judge Barbier”

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.

Pete and Repeat sat on a fence – Hood repeats warning, Young repeats attempt at revirgination, Peytavin pumps another Peytavin – but too much snow to see the fence!

According to Mississippi Ag: BP claims process violates law(Mobile Press Register), Jim Hood has put paper behind Mississippi’s interest in a transparent, fair, and fast BP claims handling process:  (h/t Y’all)

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood continued Tuesday to assault the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, saying in a federal court filing that its activities violate federal and state law and again asking the judge to intervene in the claims process…

In the filing, Hood contends that Feinberg’s process, by freezing interim payments, increases the financial hardship on claimants and makes them more likely to sign away their legal rights.

Details of Hoods allegations are summarized in the Press Register story (h/t to reporter Dan Murtaugh) and detailed in Hood’s Memorandum of Authorities in Support of Statement of Interest on Behalf of the State of Mississippi (below in scribd format).

Judge Barbier shouldn’t need reminding a similar financial hardship resulted in claimants signing away their rights following Hurricane Katrina only to discover more damage later. Nonetheless, I’ll repeat myself and say that Attorney General Hood is now Twice Right and Judge Barbier should heed the warning.

Speaking of someone who shouldn’t need reminding, John Young should know better than to make another transparent effort at revirgination – but, alas, he does not and reports Continue reading “Pete and Repeat sat on a fence – Hood repeats warning, Young repeats attempt at revirgination, Peytavin pumps another Peytavin – but too much snow to see the fence!”

Twice right – Attorney General Jim Hood asks Judge Barbier to oversee BP claims settlement

After the the Class-Action-that-didn’t-happen early on in Hurricane Katrina litigation, alternative resolution was made available.  According to the website of the Jackson office of Baker Donelson, this option was the “brainchild” of the former assistant commissioner of the Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) and current Baker Donelson attorney, Lee Harrell:

Established the MID Hurricane Katrina Mediation Program and the U.S. Federal Court Mediation Program, which streamlined the claims handling process and resolved thousands of claims quickly and satisfactorily without lengthy and expensive litigation…

Others see Harrell and his brainchild in a different light – mediation fraud.

However, it would have been preventable mediation fraud had the Southern District Mississippi court taken oversight of the process as requested by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.  Via a recently filed “Statement of Interest on Behalf of the State of Mississippi”, Hood has made a similar request of  Judge Barbier for much the same reason he ask the Mississippi court to protect hurricane disaster victims:

The Attorney General’s Statement to U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier asks the court to take control in order “to correct the deficiencies in the GCCF as outlined in the PSC’s Motion and in this Statement of Interest, in order to facilitate the timely and just processing of claims…“I want Mr. Feinberg to continue paying claims, but I want the process to be transparent, fair and fast…”

Judge Barbier has additional incentive provided by he-who-didn’t-make-the-Steering-Committee.  Continue reading “Twice right – Attorney General Jim Hood asks Judge Barbier to oversee BP claims settlement”

Bum steer – Barbier adds goverment liasions to Steering Committee but denies motion for special government track in oil spill litigation

Oil and water don’t mix – and, apparently,federal and state Attorneys General feel likewise about having their claims overseen by the “big money pot in the little one” Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee appointed by Judge Barbier.

Rebecca Mowbray reports one chapter of the story in the Money section of today’s Times-Picayune:

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier told participants in the BP oil spill litigation Friday that he wasn’t trying to deny the state of Louisiana a voice in the proceedings when he rejected a motion for a special government track Thursday. He’s just trying to make the litigation more efficient, Barbier said…

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell…[a]Appearing at his first monthly oil spill status conference Friday morning, Caldwell said he wasn’t reassured by what Barbier said and is evaluating the state’s legal options.

“The state’s claims are still subject to the plaintiffs steering committee,” Caldwell said, noting that Barbier also didn’t rule on Louisiana’s request to bar private attorneys from sharing any proceeds ultimately due to the state. With Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator Kenneth Feinberg settling claims and removing plaintiffs from the litigation, the concern is that public recoveries could become the deepest pockets in the litigation, and that governmental bodies could be forced to share if they’re operating under the auspices of the plaintiffs committee.

Meanwhile, Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood wants Barbier to take control of the claims process: Continue reading “Bum steer – Barbier adds goverment liasions to Steering Committee but denies motion for special government track in oil spill litigation”