Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spill Fund May Prove as Challenging as 9/11 Payments

New York Times
August 21, 2010

At first blush, it would seem that Kenneth R. Feinberg, the man tapped to dole out BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund, has been down this path before.

As the special master who administered the $7 billion Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, he wrestled with visceral questions of how much money each victim of the attacks was entitled to, endured the occasional emotionally charged taunts and criticisms from widows and grieving relatives, and succeeded in persuading the families of a vast majority of the victims to accept cash settlements rather than file lawsuits.

But some analysts say his new assignment could prove even trickier.

“Although he had a very difficult time placing a dollar value on human life, in some way that was a more straightforward job than estimating the long-term harm to a shrimper’s business,” said Richard A. Nagareda, a mass torts expert and law professor at Vanderbilt University.


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