Wednesday, January 4, 2012
In an interview with Catherine Dunn of Corporate Counsel, Kenneth Feinberg discusses his views on special masters and tort reform. As a special master of some of the largest funds established post-disaster, Feinberg expects the criticism that goes with the job. There is a learning curve for each post-disaster fund. But the statistics evidence the success of these funds and of Feinberg’s efforts in administering these funds. It is the percentage of participation in these funds rather than in the tort/litigation system that illustrate the success of these funds. In a year’s time, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility established by BP after the oil spill, has processed 97% of more than 1 million claims. In the September 11th fund, 97% of the death claims were resolved through the fund rather than through litigation.
As he discussed in the September Teleconferences hosted by the American Bar Association’s Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Feinberg does not believe there should be a special court dedicated to handling mass disasters. Nor should the September 11th fund be replicated, asking why there should be a carve-out for handling the claims of only a few people who have been victims of life’s misfortunes. He is not an advocate of tort reform, stating that the system works daily in every court in every city, village and town in this country and it works pretty well.
For more on this interesting topic and the upcoming TIPS Disaster Initiative programs at the ABA's Mid-Year Meeting in New Orleans focusing on Disasters Caused by Negligence, including both Katrina and the BP disaster, please visit TIPS Disaster Initiative page and the Mid-Year Program page. You can listen to a podcast about the Mid-Year Disaster Initiative program and the DP disaster fund for the Deepwater Horizon disaster by clicking here. You can watch and listen to Feinberg’s discussion of the September 11th Victim’s compensation fund on West LegalEd Center’s archive of the September 11th Disaster Initiative Telecasts.