Selecting a person to oversee a multibillion-dollar compensation fund is an important decision. Last week the Wall Street Journal announced the appointment of Sheila Birnbaum as the special master in charge of overseeing the 9/11 victim compensation fund.
With the tenth anniversary of the attacks quickly approaching, the appointment of Sheila Birnbaum is an important step to get the program up and running. As stated in The New York Times, “Many details about the program are still to be worked out. But officials in Washington expect to have it operational after money for its administration becomes available on Oct. 1.”
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. provided the following statement “Sheila Birnbaum brings extensive experience, credibility and unique insight to this important role. She has worked closely with, and won the trust of, the families of 9/11 victims with whom she worked”.
As Ms. Birnbaum gets to work, those directly impacted by the toxins at ground zero will have to wait to see what if any compensation to which they are eligible. The role of special master includes writing the rules and procedures which govern the program and what many consider an impossible task of deciding who gets what…in terms of compensation.
Although there is much work to be done before compensation actually reaches those with 9/11 related illnesses, there are a few things that we do already know. Provisions in the law which created the fund provide specific guidelines. Individuals filing a claim do so knowing the decision is final and not subject to appeal. In addition by filing a claim, any right to sue the city, private contractors or anyone involved in the ground zero rescue, recovery or clean up efforts must be waived.