A federal court judge recently ruled that the Mississippi attorney general’s lawsuit against the Gulf Oil Spill Fund’s administrator must be heard in state court. The judge ordered the case to be heard in state court because the lawsuit was brought under Mississippi’s consumer protection laws.
In his claim, Mississippi’s attorney general seeks to obtain the Gulf Coast Claim Facility’s administrative records. The attorney general believes that the records will reveal a lack of transparency in the claims administration process, including the denial of many legitimate claims and inequitable payments to claimants. Kenneth Feinberg, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility Administrator, denied these allegations and refused to hand over the records, claiming that the records were irrelevant to individual claims.
With an already expired Gulf Coast Claim Facility deadline for filing claims, a state court judge’s ruling could result in greater government intervention in the claims process. The Facility’s lack of transparency has troubled many victims of the Gulf Oil Spill and has also led to frustration and skepticism about BP’s intentions.
In state court, the attorney general will have to prove that the Gulf Oil Spill victims can be classified as consumers under Mississippi’s consumer protection laws, which may be a challenging feat. Still, a sympathetic court could make the stretch, and a ruling against BP may result in a fairer claims facilitation process in the future.
For questions, contact Broussard & David at 1-888-337-2323 (toll free) or 337-233-2323 (local).