Compensation Funds For Victims Of Tragedy A 'Small Solace' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Compensation Funds For Victims Of Tragedy A 'Small Solace'

Play associated audio

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

In so many American tragedies, from the attacks of Sept. 11 to the Boston Marathon bombings, victims who survive and the families of those who don't are offered compensation. And when it comes time to figure out who should be compensated and how much, time and time again, Kenneth Feinberg's phone rings.

A big part of his job is figuring out how much money to distribute to whom. "You do the best you can," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin, "You build on what you've done before, and you try and allocate using rough justice. How much of the available funds will be allocated to the dead, to the physically injured in the hospital, to the physically injured not in the hospital, to those suffering purely mental trauma? And you try and do the best you can with what you've got."

It's a "very stressful" calculation, he admits. "But the stress that you have in a back room, deciding who gets what, is nothing like the stress you confront when you meet each eligible claimant."

And the claimants' stories stick with him. Feinberg recalls visiting a victim of the Boston bombings in the hospital, and telling him he'd receive $1.2 million for his injury. Feinberg remembers the injured man replied, "Give me my leg back. You can keep the money. Give me my leg back, that's what I want."

"And you try and explain — rather hollow, but you try and explain that you haven't got that power, or that I wish I did," says Feinberg. "All I can do — and it's small solace — is the compensation."

Join Our Sunday Conversation

Do you think it is right to compensate families financially for their losses in tragedies like 9/11 and the Boston bombings? Tell us on Weekend Edition's Facebook page or in the comment section below.


Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Deford: Frankly, Hot Dogs Best Served At The Ballpark

Forget peanuts and Cracker Jack. Sausages are the food most closely linked to the national pastime, says Frank Deford.
NPR

Deford: Frankly, Hot Dogs Best Served At The Ballpark

Forget peanuts and Cracker Jack. Sausages are the food most closely linked to the national pastime, says Frank Deford.
NPR

With Ferguson, Obama Forced To Confront Race Yet Again

President Obama's carefully avoided taking sides following the shooting of Missouri teen Michael Brown, disappointing some African-American observers.
NPR

Ex-Microsoft CEO Ballmer Steps Down From Company's Board

Steve Ballmer, 58, on Tuesday resigned from the software giant's board because of other time consuming commitments including his new ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.