9/11 Fund Was Slow Process


“This is like deja vu all over again.” –Yogi Berra

Traumatized by disaster and promised quick compensation, families grow frustrated by slow payments from a special relief fund. Paperwork delays are blamed for unpaid claims. Initial hope giving way to concerns about credibility of the process…and victims paying the price in failing mental health, broken families and lost homes.

Sound like the BP oil spill 2010? For sure, but also 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 Fund (another compensation pool administered by Ken Feinberg). It’s easy to forget now, since the mainstream media has decided that Mr. Feinberg’s tenure at the fund was nothing short of a slam dunk. But the fact is…the 9/11 process was a LONG, long slog. That’s important to keep in mind as Mr. Feinberg bounces around the Gulf telling people that not only will his process be “generous” – but that it will be QUICK.

In 2002, the New York Times reported about an aviation lawyer whose firm represented 70 9/11 families. The lawyer said he met with Mr. Feinberg to discuss six cases involving high-income families in early June, and believed Mr. Feinberg’s pledge of a concrete response in two weeks. It took months, and that was an attorney who knew Mr. Feinberg “for years.”

“His constant hesitation to make a final decision or put in writing what is said orally is just prolonging the anguish of the families,” said Kenneth P. Nolan, a lawyer representing about 60 families. That comment, and the frustration of details being used for delay, is certainly a concern.

The 2002 report is worth a read: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/13/nyregion/13FUND.html?pagewanted=print

© Smith Stag, LLC 2010 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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