Sunday, January 2, 2011

Nine-Eleven: Survivors, Victims and Compensation

By Tom Kando

On December 22, Congress approved a $4.2 billion compensation package for 9-11 survivors and for responders who became ill while working in the ruins after the attack. I have long been confused about this issue, so I tried to catalogue some of the facts:

1.The 9/11 Responders Health Bill:This is the $4.2 billion federal package just approved, to pay for police officers’, fire fighters,’ and other responders’ health care and illnesses caused by toxic fumes and other conditions at ground zero. Over 400 police officers and fire fighters died on the day of the attack, and nearly 1000 responders have died from related illnesses since then. September 11 attacks

2. The WTC Workers’ Settlement with NYC for Dust Exposure:
This is another fund of 625-725 million, to be divided among 10,000 or 11,000 members of clean up crews, police, firemen, etc. for an average of 65K per person, and ranging from a few thousand to over a million. This was under litigation for nearly a decade, but it was finalized in Nov 2010. This money comes from New York City.
WTC workers agree to $625 million settlement for toxic dust exposure

3. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund:Separately of course, the families of the people who died on 9-11 received $7 billion, for an average of 1.8 million per family. September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

4. The September 11th Fund:A privately collected $528 million Fund, to help affected businesses and other parties.
September 11th Fund

5.The World Trade Center Captive Insurance Company:By June 10, 2010, this group had paid out $712.5 million in 9-11 related settlements to survivors for medical and other claims. The money came from New York City, FEMA and other sources. World Trade Center Captive Insurance Company

6. There is a Marriott Compensation Fund.

7. No doubt there are funds for the survivors of flight 77 which crash into the Pentagon (184 people died there), and...

8. Same for flight 93 which crashed in rural Pennsylvania (40 dead)

9. There must be other 9-11 victims compensation programs.

Things look messy.

For one thing, how many people qualify for these various programs? For example, Plan #2, above, ended up disbursing money to about 10,000 people, although initially 70,000 applied.

And how much does each survivor-applicant deserve? For example, many of the dead were highly compensated employees (stock brokers, financial consultants, etc.). Their families argued that they should be reimbursed for the very high lifetime income which the dead victims would have earned. This led to years of litigation.

Lawyers’ fees have also been a bone of contention. For example, in plan #5, above, at one time 95% of disbursements went to lawyers. More recently, I vaguely recall a judge ordering a limit to lawyers’ fees.

Here are my three hopes: (1) that the real victims get what they are entitled to, (2) that only true victims get compensation, and (3) that this business emerges out of the legal and bureaucratic morass in which it has been for nearly a decade. leave comment here