U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who is overseeing more than 350 oil spill-related claims in the consolidated multidistrict litigation, called for arguments on whether the claims process administered by Kenneth Feinberg is effective enough.

The U.S. Department of Justice offered its own opinions on some of the issues raised in Bondi’s filing:

When a Responsible Party denies liability for a claim or the parties are unable to reach agreement within 90 days, the claimant may present his or her claim in federal court or to the National Pollution Funds Center (“NPFC”) for payment from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (Fund).

Speed of interim payments
The filing notes that “the interim claim process must be a real one, not a disfavored afterthought,” to ensure that claimants concerned about the unknown future of the gulf can continue accepting payments without waiving their right to sue BP.

The plaintiffs say the releases go too far and shouldn’t keep claimants from seeking payments for damages from the spill that they don’t yet know about.

The Justice Department’s filing also notes that while Judge Barbier has ruled that Feinberg “is under contract with BP and has some responsibilities to BP,” he “operates as an independent decision-maker.”

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