Journalism in the Public Interest

In Shakeup, Incoming Spill Claims Czar Will Drop BP’s Contractor

The independent claims czar for the BP spill plans to drop the contractor BP had been using and hire two companies to replace it.


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Kenneth Feinberg, the independent paymaster chosen by President Obama to administer damage claims from the Gulf oil spill, will drop the contractor that BP has been using to manage the claims process and hire two new companies to replace it.

Feinberg is expected to take over the claims system from BP in mid-August. He will replace BP’s primary contractor for claims, ESIS Inc., with two other firms when he assumes control of the process, said Feinberg’s spokeswoman Amy Weiss. She did not say why ESIS was being replaced.

BP’s compensation system has been criticized by many applicants and so far made payments on only 28 percent of claims. Applicants have described delays, unreturned phone calls and bureaucratic obstacles. Roughly $300 million has been disbursed to date; BP has agreed to set aside $20 billion to cover claims and other expenses.

Earlier this week, BP confirmed our report that the company has deferred decisions on thousands of claims until Feinberg takes over the process. Many of those claimants had not been informed why their cases had been placed on hold.

A spokeswoman for ESIS’s parent company, ACE Group, has not responded to a request for comment on Feinberg’s decision.

Patricia Wright, a spokeswoman for BP, confirmed that ESIS would be replaced, and said that the decision was made by Feinberg without BP’s involvement. She said that BP was continuing to pay claims and that ESIS would stay on the job while BP retained control of the process. “Our contractors will continue to work until we transition,” Wright said.

The companies that will replace ESIS, Garden City Group and the law firm BrownGreer, both specialize in the resolution of mass claims. BrownGreer was previously hired by Feinberg as a fee and expense analyst during his tenure as the executive pay czar overseeing compensation at banks that were bailed out by the federal government.

If you've filed a claim with BP, we want to hear about your experience. For more information about the claims process, check out our Unofficial Guide to BP Spill Claims.

Amanda Michel contributed reporting to this piece, and is coordinating our BP claims project.

Good job staying on top of these guys, it’s hard to tell what’s going on via their website and based upon what I have read the reporting here is accurate.

Typical government “improved and streamlined” response.  Feinberg’s first officiall act will be to replace one contractor with two while declining to tell us why.  Appointed in June, may take over “soon”, claims deferred during “transition”.  Meanwhile, no formal agreement on the alleged $20 Billion dollar cleanup fund; therefore, not one penny on deposit. 
People on the Gulf Coast are losing jobs, businesses and life savings while Washington fiddles.

Brian J. Donovan

Aug. 6, 2010, 8:46 a.m.

As of August 5, 2010, BP has made 99,600 payments to claimants for a total of $303 million.

This equates to an average of only $3,042 per payment!

The following perspective on the BP Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund may be of interest:

I hope Feinberg will replace BP’s contractor with others who have no ties or connections to BP, Transocean, or any other oil polluters.  We need transparency and independence.

BP, the corrupt, evil corporation that has brought us the following (to name a few):

1)  BP has made deals with academic institutions to control alternative energy. Read the following for the details of BP’s deal with UC - Berkeley:
BP will effectively be able to choose which technologies are developed for large-scale adoption. And there is no indication of when, if ever, new technologies would pass into the public domain. And shame on UC Berkeley and others for colluding!

2)  BP is in the business of buying up scientists.  Here’s an example of how BP works with scientists: Blacklash Grows Against BP Efforts to “Buy Up” Gulf scientists—

3)  BP will do anything to protect its interests:

Thomas d'Aquin

Aug. 6, 2010, 11:15 a.m.

I guess Mr. Feinberg has to get his hand in this too. I have kept his company in the loop of all the lies, the racism, and the harrassing nature of this ESIS! ESIS spent 4 weeks asking for different kinds of id from persons involved with my group. Mr. Willis is not any better . They have been in the loop. They knew ESIS employees were doing this and ignored this. ESIS employees have also lied to Mississippi Attorney general about id theft!

WELL, LET’S SEE WHAT ...Kenneth Feinberg, the independent paymaster chosen by President Obama to administer damage claims from the Gulf oil spill and his 2 newly selected BP’s primary contractor for claims:Garden City Group and the law firm BrownGreer…WILL DO TO STREAMLINE THE BP CLAIMS PROCESS FOR THE GULF COAST RESIDENTS & BUSINESSES!

Who is paying Mr. Feinberg and what is the basis for the payment to him? Does he get a bonus for “settling” more claims, or for dismissing them?

Bill raises an important question about compensation.  Let’s go a step further: how much money has been spent so far in establishing this new claims administration?  Going forward, what is the budget for Feinberg’s operation?  I’m willing to bet the money trail is nearly impossible to find.

Really people. It’s very simple why they are being replaced. The claims people right now are delaying us and playing games. I’m stuck here in the processes right now because of this BP mess. I am so glad that we will at least have a chance with a claim with the independent commission. We have NO CHANCE of getting a fair settlement with the BP office right now.

Erich Riesenberg

Aug. 9, 2010, 3:03 p.m.

As an investor, my expeience with Garden City Group is they often work with companies in bankruptcy, for instance, where there are many shareholders and claimholders.

ESIS is owned by Ace an insurance company, so I am guessing that company is well trained to say no.

And, the first $3 billion of the $20 billion was deposited today, per news reports.

Good luck.

My claims are into the $100s of thousands if not in excess. I have had nothing but problems and here is why.

Worley, the adjusters, and KPMG, the auditors, have historically made decisions on who to pay and how much. In this instance their decisions have no weight, and they have no ability to pay claims. Most of them i have spoken to want to go home, but they feel a duty to the claimants.

Nobody should be blaiming Worley or KPMG but they have been under ridiculous contract terms that basically makes them customer service people. They have little or no communication with decision makers, and can’t even talk to each other. It is a crime the way BP has run this process.

One comment about Feinberg that nobody is answering. When he is writing his protocol (on his 10th btw) who from BP is sitting in the room discussing legal responsibility under OPA. Don’t think BP isn’t going to be all over him to comply with their strict interpretation. He has already made claims in the past that he wouldn’t pay for certain items, that coincidentally are things that BP said they should have have to pay for.

If Feinberg wanted to do this right, he would enable the adjusters and auditors to approval all checks. Now we are going to be stuck with another redundant bureacracy, where he is claiming he will make the final decisions. Well im sorry Mr. F but you dont have the time to make decisions on thousands of large loss claims in the detail we want.
I just hope that he changes the rules so that claimants are actually told how their payments are calculated and given the opportunity to support their claims.

As a local company in New Orleans, we would like to contact the new Gulf Coast claims facility to hire local people affected by the oil spill, can anyone give me a contact name and number for the Garden City Group or Brown Greer?

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