Claims Czar's Slow Pace Frustrates Gulf Coast Businesses It's been almost three weeks since Kenneth Feinberg took over the claims payment process for the oil spill. Residents and businesses along the Gulf Coast are still waiting, in frustration and often in desperation, for claims to be paid out.
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Claims Czar's Slow Pace Frustrates Gulf Businesses

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Claims Czar's Slow Pace Frustrates Gulf Businesses

Claims Czar's Slow Pace Frustrates Gulf Businesses

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.


NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT: After being shuffled through nine BP claims adjusters, and having to resubmit tax records three times, Rhonda Drummond was ready for the switch.

RHONDA DRUMMOND: We waited patiently until Feinberg took over. I was at the office at 8:00.

ELLIOTT: Unidentified Woman: Hi.

DRUMMOND: Unidentified Woman: Five.

DRUMMOND: Five? Let me get you set up.

ELLIOTT: The restaurant lost $45,000 this summer, and only got $15,000 of it back from BP. That's why she was so anxious for Feinberg to take over.

DRUMMOND: And we filed for $120,000 to get us through till January. And they insulted my family by sending us $4,500. They gave my servers more than they gave our business.

ELLIOTT: Now the new claims process does not allow appeals for the emergency payment, so she's not sure what to do next.

DRUMMOND: We can file the final claim, give up our right to sue. Or we can retain an attorney. Or we can file bankruptcy and walk away from it all. As a mother, how do you make that decision?

ELLIOTT: Feinberg had promised a quick turnaround - if you had even minimal documentation, individuals would get a six-month emergency payment within 48 hours of a claim, businesses in a week. It sounded like a lifeline for those on the brink.

SHEILA NEWMAN: We were just putting all our hope into Feinberg, because we have moved home. We've closed our office. We've had to cut our salaries. We're just barely making it.

ELLIOTT: About a month ago they described for NPR their fight with BP. Now the fight is with Feinberg's Gulf Coast claims facility.

NEWMAN: We're going broke. We have no money. And so it - the seven days meant a lot to us. So we, you know, every day it's like please let that check come in, but you check it and we're still under review.

ELLIOTT: Kenneth Feinberg will be in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana next week to explain the delays.

KENNETH FEINBERG: Frustration is understandable. The frustration is to be acknowledged. We are processing about a thousand claims a day. The problems are enormous.

ELLIOTT: Still, Feinberg admits he promised more than he's been able to deliver, given the complexity and sheer volume of claims.

FEINBERG: It's taken longer than I thought. And that criticism, the false expectations that have been raised, I think are justifiable.


ELLIOTT: Diner owner Rhonda Drummond says she can't wait any longer for the process to work.

DRUMMOND: (Unintelligible) I just want what's rightfully due me. What I would have done, what my family would have made, if they hadn't messed it up. That's all I'm asking for.

ELLIOTT: Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Orange Beach, Alabama.

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