The Gulf Claims Racket

When is $20 billion in ready cash not enough? Answer: When state Attorneys General and the plaintiffs bar are vying for a bigger chunk of the BP compensation fund that is supposed to go to victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

That’s the real story behind the headlines about unhappiness over Kenneth Feinberg’s terms for payments under the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. As administrator, er, King Solomon of this exercise, Mr. Feinberg has to make difficult judgments as he attempts to compensate genuine victims while not rewarding freeloaders. Plaintiffs attorneys and their AG pals seem to be afraid that they’ll be cut out of the action.

You know the usual suspects. There’s Mississippi AG Jim Hood, aka Dickie Scruggs’s former comrade in class actions, who told a Biloxi TV station that “We took Mr. Feinberg behind the woodshed for a couple of hours to express our concerns about the draft claims protocol he had circulated.” When it comes to personal bluster, Mr. Hood is the Rod Blagojevich of the Gulf Coast.