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WashU law dean to help oversee fund that will pay Gulf spill claims

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The dean of the Washington University law school will help oversee the $20 billion trust fund that will pay for damage claims relating to the BP oil disaster.

Kent Syverud and his fellow trustee, retired federal judge John S. Martin, will not decide who should be compensated for damages. That's up to administrator Kenneth Feinberg. The duo will ensure that the money in the trust is invested appropriately and available to pay the claims Feinberg approves.

The job is daunting, Syverud said, but he called it a public service he is happy to take on. He and Judge Martin are still determining their exact responsibilities and figuring how how the trust will work.

"The spill has been a traumatic experience for lots of people in the Gulf area," Syverud said. I know both of us want to responsibly administer the money to make sure it's there to benefit the injured."

Syverud is known for his extensive research in complex litigation cases, like those surrounding Agent Orange and the World Trade Center. Judge Martin handled insurance litigation after the September 11th attacks.