Will county hire BP spill lawyer to take on claims against Arpaio?

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX – Claims and lawsuits are mounting from people who say they have been unfairly targeted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Ten cases have been filed so far demanding $50 million total and now county managers are taking drastic action to handle the situation.

County managers want to bring in Ken Feinberg to handle the claims. His name might sound familiar because he handled the settlements for 9/11 victims and now he has become known as the $20 billion man in the Gulf, in charge of handling all claims related to the BP oil spill.

Susan Schuerman tells 3TV, “I believe I was targeted I believe my career has been ruined.  I believe my reputation has been ruined."

Attorneys for County Secretary Schuerman and others who say they were victimized by the sheriff and former county attorney Andrew Thomas say they seem confident they will win million-dollar settlements.

Michael Manning, an attorney, says, “We will win this. I promise. This is one of the most outrageous things I've seen these two people do."

The situation has county officials worried about spending too much time and money in court. Cari Gerchick, a Maricopa County spokesperson, tells 3TV, “It could take tens of millions to get the cases to court, and 5 to10 years to get the cases through court."

Instead of court, county managers now want to hire Feinberg. He is currently in the Gulf hired by federal government to hand out $20 billion BP to people like shrimpers.

County officials say hiring Feinberg is the most efficient way to handle the claims, but Arpaio and Thomas disagree.

The sheriff says, “I will not settle for one penny. See this penny?  Not one penny! I want to go to court. I want them to sue!" The sheriff’s office maintains its investigations were fair and justified.

Whether the claims are settled in or out of court, the sheriff's accusers, like Schuerman, are eager to move forward. She says, “I think they intended to scare me to death."

In the meantime, Arpaio and Thomas say they are eager to fight the claims. Feinberg would charge the county $500,000 to resolve the claims against the sheriff.

Arpaio on Tuesday advised Feinberg to stick to the oil spill.