9/11 fund handler decides victim compensation in Aurora movie shooting
No amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one. But it does more for the survivors than just kind words, said the attorney handling compensation to victims after the Aurora, Colorado massacre.
Families of those killed and some of the victims wounded in a shooting spree at a movie theater in Aurora in July, will soon receive payments from a charitable fund set up on their behalf, the Colorado governor's office said Friday.
The Aurora Victim Relief Fund has announced how the $5,338,360.32 collected from donors will be distributed to those who suffered death or serious injury.
Ken Feinberg, the fund's special master, has a history of handling similar disbursements to victims of headline-making crimes and disasters.
Since having determined similar payments to victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, he has been called on to use his judgment to divide compensation among victims in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse cases for Penn State and in the wake of BP oil spill.
"I think the previous funds worked," Feinberg told CNN in September when he was selected to manage the Aurora payouts. "I think that success sort of breeds repeat performance in these rare situations, where compensation is ready to be distributed to innocent victims."
It's never an easy decision t o make under the shadow of a catastrophic loss, Feinberg has said. He has written a book about his experiences titled "Who Gets What."
But the attorney's work in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, when a gunman took 32 lives in a shooting rampage on a college campus provided valuable experience in laying down the compensation in the Aurora case.
"The families of the deceased (in the VT massacre) all got the same amount and the physically injured were paid based on how long they were in the hospital."
Of the 57 claims filed after the Aurora shooting, Feinberg approved 38.
"Nineteen claims were denied because they did not qualify under previously announced protocols," according to a statement release by the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Families of the 12 who died and five victims "who suffered permanent brain damage or permanent physical paralysis, will each receive $220,000.
Six who were hospitalized for at least 20 days will receive $160,000. Thirteen more will receive $35,000 each, having been in hospital for one to seven days.
Victims who did not require overnight hospital treatment will not be compensated "due to the limited amount of money in the fund."
Free counseling is available to all victims.
The Aurora Victim Relief Fund was established by Colorado's governor and a local charity called the Community First Foundation. It was established to meet the immediate and long-term needs of victims and their families.
James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, allegedly barged into the theater on July 20 and opened fire on the audience as it watched "The Dark Knight Rises," killing 12 people. He faces 152 charges, including murder and weapons offenses.
Fifty-eight people were injured in the shooting.
Feinberg received no compensation for his work on the Aurora shooting payments, Hickenlooper's office said.
He was not even reimbursed for expenses.