The fund set up to compensate the victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been accused of fraud and negligence in a recently filed lawsuit.
The lawsuit against the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which presumably has professional indemnity insurance in place to cover such accusations, was filed by Pinellas Marine Salvage in Florida.
The local company claims that the funds administrators are not acting in the interests of claimants and are employing a “delay, deny, defend” strategy in paying out to victims. The fund is accused of sidestepping many of the rights oil spill victims are provided with as part of the Oil Pollution Act (1990).
According to the Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi, one of the areas which was most affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill:
“This scheme is another device for BP [through the fund] to entice claimants to sign a release and to improperly leverage those releases by intentionally underpaying interim claims,”
“BP is withholding interim claim payments to increase financial hardship on claimants.”
Pinellas Marine Salvage is reported to be seeking punitive, compensatory and economic damages from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and its federal administrator Kenneth Feinberg.