September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Tuesday, November 27, 2001 3:48 PM
Att: Mr Feinberg
I am a lawyer working with two widows in New Jersey, on a voluntary basis. These women are friends and neighbors of ours. The decision whether to sue or go to the Special Master will be difficult and challenging for these women. It seems to me however, the determining factor will be whether the Widows perceive that they will be treated fairly and therefore that the outcome could be expected to be reasonably similar to a litigation outcome.
There are two overriding issues that will impact their decision. First, while it appears that insurance benefits must be deducted because of the statute which authorized the fund, it will be critical whether the deduct is on a pre-tax or after tax basis. If there is a deduct for 100% of the insurance and they pay half to the government in estate taxes, there will be a strong perception of unfairness. They would have been better off had they not insurance -- do the numbers! If however, only the after tax amount is deducted, the sense of unfairness may be lessened (and of course we as lawyers can advise them that they would lose a good chunk of the lawsuit proceeds to lawyers-- and so it is something of a tradeoff). Additionally, a pre-tax deduct will discriminate against the wealthy or anyone with estate assets greater than the amount of the maritial deduction.
Secondly, if charitable contributions are also deducted, this will be a direct insult to the Widows and to all of their friends (known and unknown) who have contributed so generously to the Widows. These woman are working day and night to make ends meet and to find resources to feed their children, keep their houses, and hopefully even send their kids to colllege someday. IF AT THE END OF THE DAY, THEY WOULD BE THE SAME AS IF THEY HAD NEVER PUT IN THIS EFFORT, many will be forced to sue. And when they sue they will sue with a vengence and anger at not only those terrorists, but at the system which forced them to make such an awful choice. Additionally some will sue rather than lose face and what little dignity they have left from this slap to their faces.
Incidentally, if you're looking for lawyers to work with you, I will gladly volunteer my services. Just ask and I'll email my resume to you.