Controversy over BP Oil Spill Cleanup Fund Could Lead to Payment Delays
Former FBI director, Louis Freeh, was recently appointed to investigate possible misconduct in the distribution of a court-supervised settlement fund designed to compensate those who suffered damages after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Freeh was appointed after allegations it was alleged that lawyers working for the payment administrator referred claims to a law firm in New Orleans in exchange for a share of those settlements. Due to this controversy, BP requested a temporary halt of payments until the investigation is complete. This could lead to delays in compensation for those hardest hit by the spill. Lawyer Terminations According to BP, two lawyers who were key in the administration of claims due to the oil spill have been terminated after allegations of kickbacks from attorneys representing clients were discovered. The lawyers allegedly intervened in claims processing in order to gain financial benefit from law firms representing those who had allegedly been injured in the spills. Lionel “Tiger” Sutton, a top aide to attorney Patrick Juneau, who is the court-appointed chief administrator of the settlement fund, along with his wife, Christine Reitano, also an attorney working on the fund, after Sutton was accused of attempting to influence a claim filed by a New Orleans law firm. These allegations led BP to request that no further funds be issued until the investigation is complete. Misinterpretation by Claims Administrator In addition to their attempts to halt settlement payouts due to alleged mishandling by the two attorneys, BP also claims that the administrator of the fund is improperly interpreting the 2012 settlement agreement that set up the fund initially. The company claims that businesses not impacted by the spill have received compensation, and many insiders believe that the claims are an attempt to reduce the damages BP must pay to those who were severely impacted by the oil spill. The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a devastating effect on the livelihoods of many who live and work along the gulf coast. If you have suffered losses related to the oil spill, contact Dallas-Fort Worth laywers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule an initial consultation regarding your rights related to losses suffered as a result of the oil spill.