In September 2010, Goodwin Procter was selected to represent Kenneth Feinberg on legal matters related to his administration of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. The GCCF receives and, where appropriate, pays claims for damages arising from the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Feinberg’s work emanates from the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990, passed in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill. The OPA requires parties responsible for oil spills to establish a process to receive and consider settling claims by individuals and businesses injured by an oil spill. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, BP set up and ran its own claims process for four months.
After a meeting with the White House in July 2010, BP agreed to create a $20 billion fund to pay claims arising from the spill, to transfer its claims processing responsibilities to an independent third party and to appoint Feinberg to fill that role. Since the GCCF was established in August 2010, it has already received more than 750,000 claims from more than 500,000 claimants, and paid out approximately $4 billion.
Feinberg is best known for serving as the Special Master of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. His other assignments include Fund Administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which compensated families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings, and as Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation.
Goodwin Procter advises and represents Feinberg in a broad array of matters. In February 2011, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who presides over the Multidistrict Litigation encompassing cases relating to the Gulf oil spill, requested briefing from the parties on the GCCF’s compliance with the OPA claims processing mandates.
Feinberg is not a party in any MDL case but, given his substantial interest in the issue, Goodwin filed an amicus brief that documented the GCCF’s accomplishments, openness, and transparency. They also argued that the OPA claims process is intended to minimize court intervention, so that any efforts by the court to supervise the GCCF would be contrary to Congress’s intent.