« Ind. Gov't. - "Governor Mitch Daniels faces ethics complaint" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today »

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stage Collapse - "Expert calls Ind. stage collapse compensation fair"

Charles Wilson of the AP reported Sept. 11th in a story that begins:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana did the best it could, given its financial constraints, to fairly compensate the victims of last year's deadly state fair stage collapse, the man who designed the compensation plan believes.

Victims' compensation specialist Kenneth Feinberg told The Associated Press that officials had limited resources to compensate the families of the seven people killed and the more than 50 people injured in the Aug. 13, 2011, collapse just before the country duo Sugarland was to perform. Indiana limits legal claims against the state to $5 million total per incident, and a charity fund raised about $1 million.

Feinberg, who oversaw victims compensation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the BP oil spill, and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller divided the state's $5 million among victims. The families of the seven people who died were given upward of $300,000 each under the formula they devised. People who were physically injured generally had two-thirds of their medical costs covered by the state.

"It's one thing when you have an unlimited source of funds," Feinberg said in a phone interview Monday, "But when you have a limited fund like you had in Indiana ... then seeking some sort of alternative system to allocate limited resources makes sense for everybody."

This long news release from AG Zoeller, also issued Sept. 11th, begins:
INDIANAPOLIS -- At a 9/11 anniversary law school panel discussion that reviewed the Indiana State Fair stage collapse, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the victim-compensation process that nationally renowned expert Kenneth Feinberg helped Indiana design is a model approach that could be used again in case of some future tragedy.

Zoeller today officially thanked Feinberg, an attorney and law professor, for his assistance to the Attorney General’s Office last fall in helping develop a claims process and formula for the first phase of compensation to State Fair victims. When seven people died and more than 50 were injured in the stage-rigging collapse August 13, 2011, the medical bills incurred exceeded the $5 million limits of the Indiana Tort Claim Fund. Facing difficult decisions about which victims could be paid within that cap, Zoeller soon after the disaster contacted Feinberg, the nation’s leading expert on victim compensation, and requested his assistance, which Feinberg readily offered.

“One year ago we were staring into the abyss with many unanswered questions on how to allocate limited state dollars under law to victims of a multiple-fatality, mass-casualty event. Ken Feinberg with his prior experience designing victim compensation plans after 9/11, the Virginia Tech shootings and the BP Gulf oil spill was the ideal expert who could help us navigate through these difficult financial and ethical decisions. We are enormously grateful for the wisdom, insight and moral authority Ken Feinberg brought to developing this process over several difficult months, and he donated his services at no cost to the state or taxpayers,” Zoeller said.

“We learned a great deal from establishing the successful compensation programs to pay the victims of 9/11 and other tragedies in our nation's recent history and it was a privilege to assist the Attorney General in designing a plan for Indiana State Fair victims. We hope it will be instructive to others in the future,” Feinberg said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 13, 2012 09:59 AM
Posted to Stage Collapse