Dear Mr. Feinberg – The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and Mediation

Kenneth Feinberg
Presented as a plenary address to the joint conference of the International Academy of Mediators (IAM and the American College of Civil Trial Mediators ACCTM in New Orleans, May, 2004.

This is the featured plenary presentation from the IAM/ACCTM Conference in New Orleans, May 2004. Mr. Feinberg is the Special Master chosen by Attorney General John Ashcroft to administer the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. This Fund offers victims of the attacks and their surviving family members an alternative to litigation. In this role, Mr. Feinberg is is responsible for administering the fund, managing all claims brought by the victims and their families, and disseminating all public information concerning the fund.

To view or listen to Mr. Feinberg’s address online, find the appropriate link below.

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Mr. Feinberg’s lecture focuses on his experiences as Special Master of the Victim’s Compensation Fund. He explains his duties within the claims process and shared stories about his interaction with relatives and friends of victims of the attack and with survivors who were injured. Mr. Feinberg discussed the practical and emotional difficulties of running this “deceptively simple, but hideously complex” program and addressed issues such as:

  • Should families of high-salary decedents receive more money than families of low-salary decedents, and if so, how much more?
  • Should families of people who died on September 11 be treated differently from families of people who died during other attacks, such as the Oklahoma City bombing?
  • If another similar attack happens, should Congress enact a similar Fund?

In addition, Mr. Feinberg explored several legal issues that arose from the way in which the fund was developed and executed. Mr. Feinberg explained how the statute enacted to establish the September 11 fund gave him authority to administer the fund, but gave little guidance as to who would be eligible as beneficiaries. Feinberg addressed his use of mediation and the state law from a victim’s domicile to help him decide which relatives and friends could collect from the fund.


Kenneth Feinberg

Ken Feinberg is among the best-known figures in the field of dispute resolution. He served as the Special Master of the U.S. government’s September 11th Victiim Compensation Fund (chronicled in his book What is Life Worth? (2005), a role in which he served pro bono for almost three years. He… MORE >

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