Special master sought to oversee oil spill claims

By HARRY R. WEBER | July 25, 2011 | 12:30 PM EDT

The attorneys for people and businesses suing BP over last year's Gulf oil spill want a federal judge to appoint a special master to oversee the claims process.

They say in court papers Monday that administrator Kenneth Feinberg has been too slow to process interim payments from the $20 billion fund that BP set up to compensate people who lost their livelihoods when crude oil gushed from BP's blown well. The payments are meant to tide people over until claims are settled.

The lawyers say BP and Feinberg's claims facility have benefited from desperate victims who choose quick one-time payments in exchange for promises not to sue.

Last week, the Justice Department said an independent audit would be done to determine if claims are being processed appropriately.

A message seeking comment was left with Feinberg.