For Gulf Victims, Mediator With Deep Pockets and Broad Power
By JACKIE CALMES Published: June 22, 2010
WASHINGTON — Kenneth R. Feinberg is the $20 billion man with an open-ended checkbook full of BP’s money. Just as jaw-dropping as the sum is the power he has to spend it: Mr. Feinberg will not only decide who is paid for losses from the gulf oil spill, and how much, he also gets to pick the three judges to handle appeals of his decisions.
Kenneth R. Feinberg is no stranger to cases in which many people have financial claims. He has also handled Sept. 11 cases.
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“All of the design, all of the implementation and all of the administration” of the claims process “is basically a handshake between the Obama administration, BP and me,” Mr. Feinberg said Tuesday, in an interview between visits with company officials in Houston and a meeting with Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama in Mobile.
The unusual degree of discretion granted to him, which BP and President Obama agreed to last week, is hard to imagine being given to anyone without the experience and respect Mr. Feinberg has gained after years of mediating mass injury claims, including those from the Sept. 11 attacks.