Patrick Juneau was leaving church in Lafayette recently when a woman approached him.
“She told me that she was saying the rosary for me,” said Juneau, who oversees BP’s multibillion-dollar settlement to resolve hundreds of thousands of claims for losses tied to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“I said, ‘Say three more.’ ”
Over the past 19 months, Juneau has approved almost $5 billion in payments to Gulf Coast businesses and residents affected by the disaster, which killed 11 men and spilled 4.2 million barrels of heavy crude into the Gulf.
But as the payments mounted, so did BP’s offensive targeting Juneau and his operation. In court filings and full-page ads in national newspapers, attorneys for the British oil giant have criticized Juneau’s oversight of the program’s top executives, several of whom have been fired or have resigned amid controversy. They also claim his generous view of the settlement has resulted in big checks for claimants who suffered no losses from the spill.