INDEPENDENCE, La. -- These are desperate times at DoRan Seafood in Independence, Louisiana. Since the B-P oil spill the work force dropped from fifty to twenty, who sometimes work only 25-hours a week. The shrimp processing equipment is shut down. They're avoiding bankruptcy by re-packing frozen fish filets to sell in stores.
"Processing is down at least by half, I think more than that," said DoRan Seafood Manager Jeff Scwab. "We're doing fish from other parts of the world just to keep the electricity on and to keep people working right now."
For a year and a half, they begged Ken Feinberg's oil spill claims group for the aid needed to keep the business open and to pay employees.
"We received a check from BP last year, or GCCF for $69.46. They called it an interest payment," said DoRan Seafood Owner Randy Pearce.
So they are anxiously waiting to see what help they will get under the BP lawsuit settlement announced this month.
"Since the settlement we really haven't gotten any information about what is going to happen next," said Pearce.
The attorneys are still trying to work out the final terms of the settlement, and hope to have that done by mid April. But in the meantime they say Ken Feinberg is no longer in control, that now a new transition process is being started for the claims operation, with new managers in place.
"It's now a transition program instead of the GCCF, so it is under different management, and it's being court supervised," said Stephen Herman. "But the reality is, their information is in the qeue, it's automatically going to be transferred into the new propgram so they don't have to start all over again."
Attorney Stephen Herman of the BP lawsuit Plaintiffs Steering Committee said the transition program has a plan for those awaiting settlements.
"There's a couple thousand people that as I understand it had offers open as of February 26th," Herman said. "For those people, it's a no brainer. They can take 60% of their final offer right now and wait and see, and hopefully they'll do better under the final court supervised program."
"I have a lot of faith in these guys to do the right thing, so we're cautiously optimistic," said Pearce hopefully.
Herman promised final offers will be part of a transparent process.