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BP Business Economic Loss Claim Appeal 2015-1328: Remand appropriate due to “claimant friendly” nature of program


The following is an Appeal Panel Decision issued pursuant to Section 6 of the BP Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement and the Rules Governing the BP Appeals Process. Links may have been added to assist the reader. The original decision may be found here, as well as a glossary of BP Settlement terms.

Claimant, a resident of Covington, Louisiana, appeals the denial of his BEL claim on the basis he is an excluded financial institution.

While it is true that the NAICS code used on claimant’s 2010 federal tax return and BEL form was 523140 (Commodity Contracts Brokerage) he later sought to amend his claim form and business designation to 454390 (Retail Sales) after the denial notice issued and he became aware of the basis of denial. In the post-reconsideration denial notice the Settlement Program (SP) acknowledged claimant documentation requesting this change but denied his request with this explanation:”Claimant never responded to several outreach attempts.”

Claimant avows he was never notified and given an opportunity to answer follow-up questions or to provide supplemental documentation. A review of the record shows otherwise: on October 24,2014, claimant’s attorney filed his request for reconsideration review with supporting allegations. The SP Contact Notes reveal the SP, on December 4, 2014, contacted claimant’s attorney, requested relevant 1099s and gave him until December 12, 2014, to respond. On December 10, 2014, the SP again contacted claimant’s attorney to remind him to respond by December 12, 2014. Claimant and his attorney failed to do so and on April 17, 2015, the post-reconsideration denial notice issued. It was not until April 30, 2015, that claimant’s attorney contacted the SP explaining that the former administrative employee assigned to monitor the claim had left employment during the deadline period and failed to take responsive action. Thus claimant requested, because of this excusable neglect, processing of the claim be re-opened. When this request was denied this appeal ensued.

Since the letter and spirit of the Settlement Agreement makes the claim process claimant-friendly this panelist concludes by the scantest of margins that remand is warranted. Accordingly remand to the Claims Administrator is directed so that claimant can fully provide all relevant documentary information in support of his claim and so that the SP may consider it and any other relevant data in making a fair and informed decision.

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