Make us your home page
Instagram

Feinberg, Crist assure economic victims of oil spill that claims will be paid

PENSACOLA BEACH — The independent manager of $20-billion in claims from the Gulf Coast oil disaster reassured Panhandle business owners and officials Monday that their losses will be covered, but first they have to be proven.

Ken Feinberg, the Brockton, Mass., lawyer who supervised claims following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, joined Gov. Charlie Crist at a 90-minute roundtable at Crabs Restaurant that was part grieving session and part legal seminar.

"We will consider their claims immediately on the merits. We will accelerate payments. We will provide six months of payments, not one, at Gov. Crist's request," Feinberg said. "We will allow for filing online, so you don't even have to walk into a claims facility. We will do everything we can to be claimant-friendly."

Feinberg's plain-spoken, no-nonsense approach, devoid of legalese, struck a positive chord with the crowd of about 75 people that included county and city officials, real estate agents, restaurateurs, fishermen, hoteliers and others.

Within about two weeks, he said, his office will publish rules for each type of business to document losses. Inland businesses or those far from the disaster, such as in the Tampa Bay area, should file claims just the same.

"Eligible claims are not limited to those motels and restaurants that are impacted by physical degradation of the beach," Feinberg said. "If they've been adversely impacted by the tourism downswing as a result of the leak, by all means, you are not ineligible."

Even people who run all-cash businesses should submit claims, he said. "If you're a fisherman, and you don't have a tax return, show me your profit-and-loss statement," Feinberg said. "The IRS isn't getting this stuff."

Feinberg sought to dispel fears while providing a little hope and humor, and poked fun at his New England accent, referring to "chahtah" fishing boats and President "Obamer."

On his second Florida visit, he promised to keep returning to the Gulf Coast to hear people's concerns directly, and he urged people not to file lawsuits. ''There's no need to litigate here," he said. "Don't file a lawsuit — at least not yet."

So far, BP has issued $150-million in emergency payments to individuals and businesses owners. But those emergency payments will stop 90 days after the leak is finally plugged, Feinberg said.

Trailed by cameras, Feinberg and Crist took a brief stroll along the beach, where the claims expert was impressed by the pristine condition of the sand. "This is fabulous!" Feinberg said, as his black dress shoes sank into the sugary sand.

Within two weeks, Feinberg said, he expects that his office will be put in charge of both government claims and private claims. He said no group has a priority for receiving compensation.

"There's no priority. First in, first out," he said.

Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, also participated in the roundtable talk.

"A precious 90-day season feels very vulnerable right now," said Patronis, whose family owns the venerable Captain Anderson's restaurant in Panama City. "People aren't filing claims because they're scared and I characterized it as a 90-day hurricane. This has just been a black cloud over our economy in Northwest Florida."

Back at Pensacola Beach, Feinberg's humor was welcomed by people whose livelihoods are badly imperiled by the spill. Joking about a visit to South Florida, he said: "I visit Miami, and they ask me, when were you bah mitzvahed? Are you Reform or Orthodox? What temple do you belong to?"

Feinberg emphasized that he's independent and doesn't work for BP or the White House. "I want to help the people of Florida get over this crisis," Feinberg said. "It would help if the oil would stop."

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Feinberg, Crist assure economic victims of oil spill that claims will be paid 07/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 7:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership

    Business

    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  2. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Government

    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]
  3. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  4. Gov. Scott backs off boycott of companies doing business in Venezuela

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will ask the Florida Cabinet next month to prohibit the state's investment managers from doing something they already do not do: invest in companies or securities owned or controlled by the Venezuelan government.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott interacts with people as he holds a Venezuelan Freedom Rally at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10 in Miami. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  5. Superior Uniform Group reports $65.6 million in sales for second quarter

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — Superior Uniform Group Inc. reported sales of $65.6 million in net sales for the second quarter, up a percentage point from the same quarter last year, the Seminole-based company reported Thursday.

    Superior Uniform Group Inc. saw a sales increase for the second quarter, the company reported Thursday. Pictured is Michael Benstock, CEO. | [Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]