Penn State plans to bring in the man who ran the Sept. 11 victim fund and other major compensation programs to help it settle claims by Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation victims, a plaintiffs’ lawyer said Thursday.
St. Paul, Minn., attorney Jeff Anderson said a lawyer for the university notified him in recent days that the school will be aided by lawyer Ken Feinberg.
“Any action toward bringing resolution and transparency is better than no action, and actions speak louder than words,” Anderson said.
Feinberg and university spokesman Dave La Torre both declined to comment.
Lawyers for Sandusky’s victims and other potential claimants had complained recently that the school had not followed up on its pledge to settle the civil claims quickly and fairly. Attorneys told The Associated Press this month that they had very limited contact with the university and, if that continued, more lawsuits were expected.
Philadelphia lawyer Joel Feller, part of a team that represents four of the 10 victims in Sandusky’s criminal case, as well as Sandusky’s adopted son Matt Sandusky and other claimants, confirmed he also was contacted by Penn State about Feinberg’s participation.
Feller said he was waiting to learn more about how the school plans to proceed.
“Whether this is a positive or negative step will be determined solely by Penn State taking responsibility for the compensatory and punitive damages owed to these young men,” Feller said.
It’s unclear precisely what role Feinberg and his firm will play, what compensation they might be getting or whether Penn State has made critical decisions about how much money to offer, where it will come from, how victims will be evaluated and the mechanism for making payments.
Feinberg also ran victim compensation funds for victims of Agent Orange, the Virginia Tech massacre and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. He outlined some of the possible approaches for such funds in his new book, “Who Gets What: Fair Compensation after Tragedy and Financial Upheaval,” which details the processes he’s used.
He writes that more than $7 billion in taxpayer money was used to pay survivors of the 2001 terror attacks, with an average award for death about $2 million, for injury about $400,000. Ninety-eight percent of claimants participated, and just 94 families opted out so they could sue.
After the Virginia Tech shooting, $6.5 million was distributed among 32 families, including five faculty members, using a methodology that took into account the length of hospital stays for those who survived.
The BP spill led to establishment of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which as of March had paid more than $6 billion to some 169,000 claimants.
Sandusky, 68, is scheduled to be sentenced next month on 45 child sexual abuse counts. Given his age, the number of charges and serious nature of the crimes, he will likely receive a state prison term that will keep in behind bars for the rest of his life.
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