INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced on Wednesday that Kenneth Feinberg has agreed to consult with Zoeller's office on paying claims associated with the Indiana State Fair tragedy.
Feinberg was the administrator of victim compensation funds after 9/11 and the BP oil spill. He will serve as consultant to Zoeller on developing a protocol for resolving claims filed against the state in an equitable and fair way. Feinberg has agreed to consult at no charge to the taxpayers or state.
"We want to move to pay the full $5 million that the state's law allows as soon as an equitable formula can be devised," Zoeller said. "My goal is to focus on the needs of victims and their families while minimizing the expense of lengthy and costly litigation. In light of the urgency for victims of the state fair tragedy and the statutory limits on compensation, the advice of Mr. Feinberg who has faced these circumstances before will be invaluable in developing this claims process effectively."
Feinberg, an attorney, arbitrator, law professor and mediator, is best known as the special master of the federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, where he adjudicated claims from and determined settlement amounts for the families of thousands of 9/11 victims. He served in similar advisory roles for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Virginia Tech mass shooting and the Minneapolis bridge collapse.
"I am honored to serve in this important capacity and will do what I can to assist the needs of the citizens of Indiana," Feinberg said.
Zoeller's office is representing the state in various legal matters related to the state fair tragedy. With a statutory role in administering the Indiana Tort Claim Fund, Zoeller's office reviews claims and makes recommendations to the governor for his consent before any payments are made on the state's behalf.
Feinberg will develop a protocol for fairy and equitably resolving claims from the August 13 incident. Zoeller will use the recommendations in making recommendations to the governor for his consent. Such a process would provide victims and families with prompt and certain payments.
"Through his service after previous tragedies, Mr. Feinberg brings great experience and insight to the claims process," Zoeller said. "Evaluating claims so that the state can be fair and equitable in addressing victims will be a difficult and solemn process. We are grateful that Mr. Feinberg has stepped forward once again to serve at this time of need."
Feinberg will also work to coordinate with the Indiana State Fair Commission on protocols for distribution of donations made privately to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund.