Oil Field and Casino Workers Excluded from Preliminary Settlement of BP Oil Spill ClaimsBy Rhonda Miller | Published 03 May 2012 06:55pm |
Payments for BP claims are expected to start rolling in to thousands of Mississippi residents in the near future, with the preliminary approval of a $7.8 billion settlement this week. But as MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, some who believe they have been affected by the oil spill are not included.
The tentative BP oil spill settlement will bring a sigh of relief, and money, to many Gulf Coast residents, including fishermen and business owners. But Ocean Springs attorney Robert Wiygul, whose firm has hundred of clients with BP claims, says the class-action settlement does not include casino or oil field workers.
"That does not mean that their claims go away. What it means is that their claims will have to be resolved in some other way, either through another settlement or through going to court in the end."
That applies to Wiygul’s client, offshore oil field worker Jay Masoner of Long Beach. His work stopped when the Deepwater Horizon exploded.
"And we had another job to go on and they cancelled all our jobs because of lack of boats, 'cause BP commandeered everything that we use in our work."
Before the oil spill, Masoner worked 16-to-18-hour days. After the spill, he was out of work for three weeks, then worked at the company shop in Houma, Louisiana.
"I was living off of 40 hours a week and I was spending most of it in gas to drive back and forth to Houma."
After they lost one of their cars and couldn’t pay their rent, Masoner says he and his family moved in with his mother in Poplarville.
"I made a claim with BP and they approved it. About three days later, one of the ladies that worked for BP called me and said they were going to hold off sending me my check because the GCCF was taking over, Feinberg. And then I got a letter, probably two weeks later, stating that I didn’t qualify."
Most claims with the GCCF, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, became part of the court settlement.
Now, Masoner has a new job and recently moved back to Long Beach.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans is overseeing the BP oil spill litigation and has ordered a Court Supervised Settlement Program to go into operation June 4.
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