Famed attorney, mediator Kenneth Feinberg visits Crowley
By: Howell Dennis
CROWLEY - Kenneth Feinberg, the famed attorney known for his work compensating victims of 9/11 and the BP oil spill, was in Crowley Saturday to discuss his work following both disasters and, as he put it, to ‘finally get a chance to sit down with the renowned Saturday morning breakfast group in Crowley.’
Saturday’s gathering at the Rice Palace included many more people than normally meet for the weekly gathering. Several Crowley politicians and businessmen were on hand to listen to Feinberg and ask questions regarding his past experiences.
Feinberg described the differences between the two tragedies.
“9/11 dealt with death on such a large scale and the country rallied around the disaster,” he said. “Eleven days later Congress had already passed a 9/11 compensation program for the victims.”
“With the oil spill obviously things have moved much slower,” he continued. “But so far, in five months, we have made payments totalling $3.5 billion to over 180,000 people. Louisiana has received $1.4 billion of that money.”
Feinberg acknowledged that he has been the target of much criticism but stated in effect that it comes with his job.
“I had a newspaper in Mobile call for my resignation,” he said. “I called them and asked ‘Who do you suggest be hired?’ They had no answer.”
Feinberg also discussed some of the difficulties he is confronted with in determining who to award reimbursements to.
“The toughest part isn’t with the fishermen or the seafood industry because basically if you worked in that part of the Gulf you were given a settlement,” he said. “The tough part is tourism. We’ve have hotels calling from Miami who claim to have lost tourism dollars because a newspaper article said the oil was coming. Those calls can be tough.”
Feinberg stated that he felt the $20 billion would be enough to settle all claims.
“We actually had one claimant suggest that his compensation should be the entire $20 billion,” he said.
He also said that ‘even though he is being paid by BP he represents the people of the Gulf Coast.’
Among those in attendance were Judge Edmund Reggie, Marion Edwards and Crowley Mayor Greg Jones.