An insider's account of how compensation decisions are made after major disasters.
One of the country’s leading lawyers, Feinberg (What Is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11, 2005, etc.) has become the man called upon by government and private interests to decide settlements. He also bears the brunt of criticism when things don't go smoothly or seem to be unfair. Now he offers his side of the story. His involvement began with the 1984 settlement of the Agent Orange case. Now known as what he calls “the poster child of 'judicial activism,’ ” the settlement compensated Vietnam veterans for alleged damages through a unique process that aroused the opposition of trial lawyers and politicians alike. It also set a pattern for Feinberg's career, during which he has worked on a variety of public and private cases, including the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund set up after the Virginia Tech shootings of 2006, and the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund. Each of these cases has made Feinberg a figure of controversy. He took the heat from some 9/11 victims who didn't understand how, under the law enacted, each claimant could receive a different amount because of their different potential lifetime earnings. Recently, politicians have made him a target in the BP case. Feinberg also examines the delicate process of balancing concerns about equal treatment under the law with the need to deal fairly with the special circumstances created by disasters. He stresses the importance of public involvement through hearings and meetings and the necessity of transparency.
An opportunity to get to know a man whose work has affected thousands.