BILOXI, Miss. — BP employee Darryl Willis, who has become the oil giant’s face of compassion, knows a thing or two about filing claims.
The former New Orleans resident helped his mother with her Hurricane Katrina claim. She waited more than three years after the storm to be compensated by Louisiana’s Road Home program.
Willis, who lives in Houston, might look like a natural in television commercials, but he’s actually a scientist. A pretty smart scientist, apparently. He has a master’s degree in geophysics and a second one in business.
Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who will become the independent administrator of the BP claims fund within weeks, recognized Willis at a town hall meeting Friday in Biloxi for the company’s work to pay $200 million in claims so far.
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After the forum Willis was talking with a Louisiana attorney about their frustrations with the state’s Road Home program. Willis said his mother’s check did not arrive until March 2008.
He had recommended BP go for expediency over perfection when the company was setting up its claims process. The company put him in charge. Soon, he’ll hand off to Feinberg.
Willis has worked at BP for 20 years. Before he became “the claims guy,” Willis said, he was serving as BP’s vice president of resources for North America, overseeing geology and engineers.