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Brought on board after the April 30th explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed eleven people, the only consistency people have noticed is the continued gall as Feinberg promises, ''claims will be paid fast''. Each time he makes that statement, residents grow that much more frustrated. Lawsuits, and plenty of them, have already been filed, including one that the State of Alabama filed that resulted in BP holding hostage that state's residents' payments.
Take a look at the timeline below.
June 18, 2010: Feinberg reiterated to coastal residents that his priority is to ''get the money flowing to the people of the Gulf'' and that ''We'll decide who will get paid, we're going to get them paid immediately in a matter of days''. At that point only 12% of the claims filed since the tragedy had been reviewed.
July 1, 2010: Feinberg announced businesses and individuals could now streamline the application process and claim several months of payments with a single claim form.
July 7, 2010: Citing improper or inadequate documentation, Ken Feinberg announces his one day turnaround might have been too aggressive.
August 6, 2010: Calling the now frequent town hall meetings ''propaganda meetings'', residents, fed up with hearing time and again that claims would be paid in a matter of days, begin to walk out of meetings along the Gulf Coast with promises to contact their attorneys so that their legal rights can be ensured.
August 10, 2010: Feinberg acknowledges the frustration and now promises, ''Individuals making legitimate claims under the new Feinberg system can expect a check within 24 hours''. Residents and business owners are vocal in their doubts.
August 30, 2010: An investigation revealed more than 11 thousand claims filed in one community over the course of a week. Less than 2 thousand were paid after three weeks, despite Feinberg's promise of a 24 hour turnaround. Feinberg claims not enough documentation was being provided.
1st Week in September: Several small businesses report claims filed in June had still not been paid and the cycle begins of these businesses closing their doors, filing for bankruptcy and preparing to sue BP.
September 22, 2010: Feinberg tells the press and those attending yet another community meeting that one area claims center now only had 12,000 claims left for the week, after beginning that week with more than 32,000 claims. Later, it's discovered more than 20,000 of those same claims had been sent through a different channel because they lacked documentation, equating to few, if any, actual claims being paid.
Attorneys along the Gulf Coast are reporting their clients are facing devastating financial losses. In an already weak economy at the beginning of the summer, most had anticipated a slow season; however, no one expected the catastrophe of the rig explosion. Meanwhile, Feinberg continues to remind those who are seeking legal representation that it could be years before they see any money if they file a lawsuit. He then explains his route is the best one to take.
The lines have been drawn and the legal showdown is just gearing up. Unlike the oil BP talking heads continue to insist is dispersing in the Gulf, the patience of those most affected is dispersing quicker.
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