Oil spill fund wants case in federal court

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil spill fund wants a federal court to preside over a Mississippi lawsuit, instead of the state court where the suit was filed.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has said Washington lawyer Kenneth Feinberg isn’t properly handling the fund for oil spill victims. Hood filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Chancery Court in July to get access to claims filed by coastal residents. Hood says he wants to make the claims process more transparent.

Feinberg moved last week to have the case sent to federal court. Feinberg argues, among other things, that federal court has jurisdiction because the spill originated on the Outer Continental Shelf.

When asked for comment, Feinberg spokeswoman Amy Weiss said that the filing speaks for itself.

Hood says his investigation falls under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act and the matter should remain in state court.

“This is just a delay tactic on the part of Mr. Feinberg. While we are ready to fight in either court, we believe this is a state issue and will ask for it to be heard in state court,” Hood said Monday in a statement.

Hood has been highly critical of Feinberg’s operation, saying the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is intentionally delaying and denying legitimate claims, an allegation Feinberg denies.

Hood has asked for claimants’ files. He has said Feinberg provided some information, but not everything Hood wants.

Feinberg has accused Hood of making allegations that border on defamation and said Hood’s actions threaten to undermine the entire claims process.

The oil spill fund was set up to help people whose lives and businesses were hurt by the oil spill.

Eleven workers were killed April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana. According to government estimates, some 206 million gallons of oil spewed from the well a mile beneath the sea.