September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Tuesday, November 27, 2001 12:03 AM
My son died in the WTC disaster. He left a wife and three young children.
I have a real dilemma in answering the call for comments. It seems that
the government is not a non partial observer here, but conveniently, is
appointed to determine the compensation plan, and is suggesting to the
families of the victims to sign over their right to appeal. This seems to
be counter to all logic, I have always viewed the legal system to be, in
some degree, a matter of gamesmanship, who has the best lawyer wins. And
it seems that the government is advising the victims not to obtain counsel.
Am I incorrect in my observation? I am seriously asking this question, not
Shouldn't the victim's families have some idea of a dollar figure? What is
the reasonable expectation? I don't think that alot of time has to be
spent on form design here. There should be some straight forward method of
determining who victims and families are, if we can't figure this out, then
the whole process is brought to question.
What is Fair Compensation? Well, there are some precedents for this
question, what were the settlements in other disasters? How do they relate
to this one? Somehow I believe that the trauma of this horrific event
exceeds anything that we have experienced to date. It serves no purpose
now to assign blame, but security measures from an Airline and Government
poin of view were seriously lacking. Then there are issues with what I
perceive to be the government's position on reducing any award by any
collateral sources of income. My son chose to take the responsible route
and funded some security measures, this was a cost that he bore, and was a
factor in looking at possible alternatives to employment as it factored
into his salary requirements. Now to penalize his family for his
investment in insurance seems to send a message that says don't be fiscally
responsible, if you sacrifice (by purchasing insurance) you will just
provide justification for decreasing the amount of a settlement. Does a
family suffer less because they have insurance? I can tell you this isn't
the case at all.
Another quandry that I have is one of trust, frankly, in the Government, to
be really fair; this Airline legislation, why is no one worried about how
much money is being moved to the Airlines? There seems to be so much
concern about the money going to victim's families, where is this money
coming from, well, of course, it comes from the citizens. But it is
appropriated and managed by the Government, so the Government has this
commitment to fund the victims relief, but is it in their interest to
minimize the total payout? Won't it make their problem easier to find the
funds if the relief to the families are minimized? So now we have a
proposal to not go to court, to minimize the costs, the Government is the
author of this proposal. Is this fair or self-serving? I have seen our
Legal system work, it seems to be based on the adversarial system. Now we
are pushing to remove this adversary process. Did the Airlines not have
their lobbyists active during the legislative process? How was the dollar
amount of the bailout arrived at? Was there give and take by the
pro-Airline lobbyists and politicians? Was this as visible as the Victims
There seems to be so many examples of civil cases where the original
settlement offers are fractions of what our Legal System finally judged to
be fair, will the Government offer be fair from the start? The Government
seems to have set itself up as the agent of the Airlines in this issue.
I would just like to be more confident that the proceedings will be fair.
I think more information is necessary to make a decision.