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Mississippi AG: BP spill victims got 'stiff-armed' on claims

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood wants to hear from whistle-blowers with inside information about how the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is operating.

Hood believes GCCF administrator Ken Feinberg "stiff-armed" claimants on emergency and interim claims because they required no release of the right to sue BP and other parties responsible for the April 2010 Gulf oil catastrophe. When claimants grew desperate, Hood believes, GCCF rolled out final payments that do require waiving the right to sue.

"They're not following the law," Hood said. "They're just trying to coerce people into signing these releases." Hood has urged Gulf residents to continue filing interim claims, which provide quarterly payments for documented losses without legal releases. The interim payments cover only losses already suffered. Final payments and "quick" final payments also cover future losses.

Feinberg said the proof is in the numbers: "The idea that 90,000 people have been misled or have been compelled, I don't buy that argument for one minute. To me, the statistics don't lie. If 90,000 people for the entire Gulf have taken the quick pay, it is because they have been adequately compensated or they have no further damage that they can document. It's an opportunity for them to get additional money.

"I think any other argument is made up. It's lacking any foundation in reality here. That's my view."

Quick payments are $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for businesses. Losses do not have to be documented, but only claimants already compensated on an emergency basis are eligible.

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