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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Tough, debilitating: Man who assigned worth to every 9/11 loss of life

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How a lot is a life value? Inside 11 days of the 9/11 assault, the September eleventh Sufferer Compensation Fund was up and working, grappling with this query. Making these powerful choices — how a lot every sufferer would have made in a lifetime — was particular grasp Kenneth Roy Feinberg, an legal professional specialising in mediation and various dispute decision. It was tough, and it was painful, he informed TOI.
Within the 33 months he was particular grasp, Feinberg sanctioned $7.1 billion for about 5,300 households. The common compensation for loss of life was about $2 million and common bodily damage declare $400,000. The fund didn’t discriminate primarily based on citizenship — undocumented staff and overseas nationals have been additionally compensated. And Feinberg labored professional bono. The fund was created out of the legislation of torts.
For the 9/11 assault, there have been a number of potential lawsuits — towards the airline, the WTC, non-public safety corporations. “The sufferer compensation fund was, in response to Congress, a greater various because it additionally saves households 5 to10 years in courts, preventing instances they could not win,” Feinberg stated. “The legislation is obvious within the US. Every household’s compensation is calculated by the financial loss suffered by the sufferer’s loss of life. For instance, a stockbroker makes greater than a waiter or a policeman. So, as per the American authorized system, a stockbroker (or his household) will get extra money.”
Did that appear truthful, valuing lives in another way? “I wouldn’t name it truthful. I don’t like to make use of phrases like ‘truthful’ or ‘justice’. Cash as an alternative to loss is fairly hole. It’s mercy — that’s a greater phrase and that’s the American authorized system. I might have a lot most popular to offer each loss of life the identical worth — all lives are equal.” Two households by no means litigated or opted into the fund. “A priest who misplaced a brother stated it was god’s will. And an 82-year-old lady was so paralysed with grief that she did nothing and let her fund expire.”
What did make the job tough, Feinberg stated, was emotion. “Emotionally coping with households in grief — indignant and pissed off — was very tough and debilitating.” Households would herald trinkets, diplomas, medals of honours, recordings of final calls to point out the lives of the family members they’d misplaced. A Hollywood movie primarily based on the wrestle to compensate victims, starring Michael Keaton as Feinberg, was launched this week. The fund, he stated, was distinctive. “I imagine this was a singular response to a traditionally unprecedented tragedy.”

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