FORT MYERS, Fla- 440,000 business and individuals beat the midnight deadline to file a claim they lost money because of the disaster in the gulf.
The Gulf Coast Claims Facility Director Ken Feinberg says he expects the total number to be closer to 450,000 once they are all counted. A response he says is four times bigger than he expected.
In a conference call this morning, Feinberg says he anticipates paying claims totaling $2.3 billion to 175,000 of them. To address the critics his process is still to slow, he says in contrast BP paid out only $400 million in the nearly four months it ran the claims office and he'll top $2 billion in three months.
He expects the emergency claims process will finish by the December 15th government deadline.
From here on out, companies and individuals claiming losses have two choices. First is to file for a lump sum payment covering all present and future losses. About 7,000 already have. If the settlement is accepted, part of the deal is those victims cannot sue BP or any of the other companies involved in the spill. This is a fresh look at claims, so even those denied before can file again.
The other option is to continue filing every 90 days for past damages. It's for those not ready to release their right to sue or calculate future losses and will work just like the emergency payments did.
Feinberg says he is also releasing a 50 page legal memo that details losses based on proximity to the spill. This is especially critical to Florida. He says is determined to be more generous than the courts would be with claims from our state and will use the report to determine fair and final payments.