The Associated Press reports that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is suing Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), BP Plc’s (BP) $20 billion oil spill fund to get access to claims filed by coastal residents.
Attorney General Hood said Tuesday that he has tried to negotiate with the fund's administrator, Mr. Feinberg. Attorney General Hood said he's seeking to make the process more transparent so people will know if Mr. Feinberg is looking out for the best interests of oil spill victims or BP. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Mississippi's Hinds County Chancery Court.
Attorney General Hood said he expects BP to try to move the lawsuit to federal court in New Orleans, where other BP cases are being handled. However, in the lawsuit, Attorney General Hood said his investigation into the claims process falls under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act and of purview of the state courts.
Mr. Feinberg said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Associated Press that, "Our lawyers will respond in the ordinary course." He had no other immediate comment.
Attorney General Hood has previously said he believes Mr. Feinberg's operation is intentionally delaying and denying legitimate claims, an allegation Feinberg has denied. Others have also criticized the size and pace of payments and a perceived lack of transparency.
Mr. Feinberg has said Attorney General Hood could undermine the claims process by urging a court to intervene and by making allegations that border on defamation.
Attorney General Hood said he believes if Mr. Feinberg would "open the books for Mississippi claims, we will find they have not treated our claims fairly." "If you don't have anything to hide, show your hand," Attorney General Hood said, according to the Associated Press.
Attorney General Hood said he resorted to the lawsuit because his office's attempts to get access to the documents on Mississippi claims failed. He did say, however, BP and Mr. Feinberg have responded with some documents but not everything requested.
"He has provided very little transparency in this process," Attorney General Hood said at a news conference in his Jackson office. "All we want them to give us how they arrived at these (claim) figures. We have worked with him every way in the world. All they have done is delay.""
All he has done is come down to our coast and tell us all these good things he was going to do and he hasn't done them," Attorney General Hood said. "It is going to take a judge, I think, to require him to make disclosure."