September 11 Email: Body
November 19, 2001
Kenneth L. Zwick, Director
Office of Management Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
Main Building, Room 3140
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Mr. Zwick:
We write this letter to you as friends of      , whose husband      was an
employee of      who was killed at the World Trade Center on September
11.      gave birth to twin girls      and      on      , and their son
turned 2 on September 22. We are very concerned that while formulating the
regulations for the Victims Compensation Fund, you take into account the following:
OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD
First and foremost, we are concerned that      and her children will not be given a
complete and full opportunity to be heard should they choose to do so. Each survivor rightly deserves
the opportunity to be fairly heard before a hearing officer. The
survivors should have the occasion to present evidence through their own testimony
and the testimony of expert witnesses. Each of their cases should be considered on a
case-by-case basis. For      , being given the right to be heard is a crucial and
extremely valuable part of her healing process. We hope you understand this.
RIGHT TO APPEAL AND FORM OF PAYMENT
Secondly, we would like the survivors to have the right to appeal, but in addition, we
believe the payment should be in one lump sum, and be paid out to the beneficiary,
consistent with what investment advisors recommend as the best for their individual
family circumstances. For example, the survivors should be allowed to request that any
payment made to a minor children should be in trust. The payment should determine the
date of vesting. The trust should not automatically vest at the age of 18, unless the
parent determines it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
Third, and of paramount importance to the survivors, is the computation of economic
losses. We are strongly against any cap being placed on this portion of recovery.
Simply put, no one should be penalized because his or her spouse worked long, hard
hours and earned a "good salary."
We would request an approach like that used in personal injury actions. Retirement
should be set at age 68. The decedent's income should be averaged over the past 3
working years. The decedent's age should be subtracted from 68. Those two numbers
should be multiplied together, thereby gleaning a starting point for computation. From
this base point, other factors such as inflation, wage-increases, merit likely bonuses
and advancement and any other benefits should be considered.
Fourth, with regard to non-economic losses, there should be absolutely no cap on this
amount. Each person's circumstances must be evaluated individually. Each case
should take into account the age of the decedent, marital status of the decedent, and
the amount and age of the decedent's children, the severity of the pain and suffering of
each affected individual (both mental and physical), including the person injured or
killed, the spouse, the children and the parents.
Compensation for non-economic losses is crucial for the survival of some families like
the firemen and policemen's. Those families will need a substantial amount of money to
be offered in this section to entice them to enter the fund. Likewise, any family who has
a considerable amount of coverage in life insurance will need some incentive to enter
the fund, since life insurance proceeds will be deducted from any recovery.
We certainly hope that any non-economic recovery from this fund would be generous in
light of the terrible circumstances of September 11th.
Finally, with regard to collateral sources, we are very concerned about their use to offset
any amount recovered from the fund. Life insurance should not be deducted from the fund
payments. Life insurance is not taxed by the IRS for one reason - it encourages people
to plan for their heirs. To deduct any life insurance from the fund payments would penalize
those who were merely responsible estate planers. The decedents sacrificed and
saved hard-earned money to pay for such plans; they are already victims once. Please
don't make them victims twice.
Moreover, pension fund, IRA'S and 401k plans should not be deducted from the fund's
recovery amount. These plans were responsibly sacrificed for and saved for by
husband. They are essentially savings accounts, and they should not be
deducted from any recovery from the fund.
With regard to charity, Americans across this country donated their hard-earned money
as a symbol of their patriotism, and our brotherhood as a nation. To deduct this charity
money from any final payment would be wrong. Donations made to
family and others like hers were generously and selflessly given to them as a form of
healing for both the donor and the receiver. Every single dollar donated and received
gives each of us hope for tomorrow and belief in our country as a united whole. Please
do not denigrate this beautiful symbol of our nation standing together as one.
In closing, we would like to sincerely thank you for considering our opinion about the
Victims Compensation Fund, something that will have an enormous and tremendous
bearing on the lives of our friend,      , her infant daughters      and      ,
her toddler son      , and thousands of other survivors. We can only ask you to please
keep them in your hearts during the weeks ahead as decisions are made that
profoundly affect them.
Short Hills, NJ
September 11 Email: Date
“dojW000799.xml,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed July 11, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/20994.