Accept 9/11 Victims Fund Awards
Thu Aug 22,
6:31 PM ET
By SHANNON McCAFFREY
WASHINGTON (AP) - Nine Sept. 11 victims' families
have accepted checks from the federal government's
compensation fund, the fund's administrator said
The families that accepted the cash payout came
from a pool of 25 applicants who received notice
of their award in July from the Justice Department
( news - web sites), which oversees the fund. Four
are appealing their award and twelve have yet to
respond, the administrator, Kenneth Feinberg,
The average award for the 25 applicants is $1.36
million, and the payments range from $300,000 to
$3 million. The Justice Department would not say
how much the nine families received.
Feinberg said while it would be a mistake to infer
too much from just nine awards, they did provide
some general guidance in what applicants could
"I hope that this will give families a
comfort level that they will be treated
fairly," he said Thursday.
Feinberg had said in March that the average award
to victims would be about $1.85 million before
outside income sources, like life insurance, were
deducted. The awards announced Thursday are minus
Names and other identifying characteristics, like
the number of children, were left off the
information the Justice Department distributed
Thursday. Only award ranges were provided.
Not surprisingly, those with the highest incomes
received the largest awards. For those earning
more than $200,000, awards ranged from $2.1
million to $3 million. Those who earned
$50,000-$100,000 over age 35 received awards of
$300,000-$1.9 million. Those with incomes below
$50,000 under age 35 received $610,000-$1.4
New York Lawyer Debra Steinberg speculated that
some older applicants might receive less because
they are more likely to have life insurance, which
would have counted against their award.
So far, 662 people have applied to the victims
fund, out of families of the more than 3,000
killed and injured in the attacks, according to
the Justice Department.
Those who seek an award from the fund must give up
their right to sue the airlines and other entities
although they are free to sue terrorists. The fund
was set up as an alternative to the courts by
Congress as part of the $15 billion airline
bailout bill passed soon after the attacks.
Many families still ambivalent about the victims
fund have been looking to the first awards as a
gauge of how generous Feinberg was prepared to be.
Feinberg said the early awards were the most
straightforward claims with the simplest finances.
Mary Ellen Salamone, whose husband worked for
Cantor Fitzgerald, said she and other family
members were waiting to see how those who appeal
their award fare in a follow-up hearing.
"Everybody wants to see how Mr. Feinberg
handles those hearings," Salamone said.
She said that some are just putting off filing
because they are waiting for paperwork from
employers. Others are stalling because the process
is emotional, she said.
In a sign that a number of victims may turn to the
courts, nearly 1,500 people and businesses filed
notices of claim with the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey by the July 10 deadline
preserving their right to sue.
Not all of those people will necessarily file
lawsuits. But New York law requires lawsuits
against the Port Authority to be filed within a
year of the incident prompting the litigation so
the lawsuits must be filed by Sept. 10. Ten
lawsuits have been filed so far against the
New York lawyer Lee Kreindler, whose firm is
representing some 250 victims families, said a
number of his clients have decided to sue. He
added he was not encouraged by the early awards
which he called "much lower than they should
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