Statement issued Wednesday:
INDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Greg Zoeller said today that Kenneth Feinberg, the nationally respected expert who was administrator of victim compensation funds after 9/11 and the BP Gulf oil spill, has agreed to consult with the Attorney General’s Office on paying claims associated with the Indiana State Fair tragedy.
Feinberg will serve as consultant to the Attorney General on developing a protocol for resolving claims filed against the State of Indiana in a fair and equitable way. Feinberg has agreed to consult at no charge to the State or taxpayers.
“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. 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,” Zoeller said.
Feinberg, an attorney, mediator, arbitrator and law professor, 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. Feinberg performed a similar role as administrator of the victim compensation fund for Gulf Coast victims harmed by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He was administrator of a memorial fund established for victims of the Virginia Tech mass shooting, and he advised Minnesota lawmakers on a crafting a legislative framework for the claims-adjuster process for 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.
The Office of the Indiana Attorney General represents the State in various legal matters related to the State Fair tragedy. With a statutory role in administering the Indiana Tort Claim Fund, the Attorney General’s office reviews claims and makes recommendations to the Governor for his consent before any payments are made on behalf of the State.
In his role as an unpaid consultant to the Attorney General, Feinberg will develop a protocol for resolving claims from the August 13 incident fairly and equitably, which the Attorney General will use in making recommendations to the Governor for his consent. Such a process would provide victims and families with certain and prompt payment.
“Through his service after previous tragedies, Mr. Feinberg brings great experience and insight to the claims process. 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,” Zoeller said.
Separately, Feinberg also will work to coordinate with the Indiana State Fair Commission on protocols for distribution of the private donations made to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund.