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Friday, 21 December, 2001, 23:38 GMT
Complaints over US compensation fund
Mourners in New York
Victims say the money will help them get back on their feet
By the BBC's Malcolm Brabant

In the United States, an 11 September compensation fund has begun processing claims amid rumblings of discontent over revelations that the relatives of those who died will not be compensated equally.

No-one can replace Eddie. But it will help. It will help me raise my kids the best way I know how

11 September widow
The lawyer heading the fund, Kenneth Feinberg, described it as an unprecedented display of taxpayers' generosity.

The average payout is expected to be about $1.5m. Relatives of a low income-earning 60-year-old might receive about $300,000 while, for example, a widow and two young children of a high-flying 35-year-old executive could receive as much as $4m.

Mr Feinberg acknowledged that the fund would face criticism, but said he believed its overall impact would be beneficial.

"This fund cannot possibly provide a full measure of relief to those who have suffered as a result of 11 September. Whatever we do is of small comfort and I realise that.

"Every life is valuable. On the non-economic side, we treat everybody basically the same. The only variation really in non-economic loss is, as you would expect, the number of dependents," he said.

Rights waived

Families accepting compensation will have to waive their right to sue the government. Some families blame the US intelligence services for failing to prevent the attacks and so believe they have a legitimate case against the government.

Others are appalled at the notion of lawyers trying to place a value on the lives of their lost loved ones.

Tracy Rowenhurst is one of them.

"No-one can replace Eddie," she said. "No amount of money, nothing what they do. But it will help. It will help me raise my kids the best way I know how."

But other victims are relieved that the fund will help take care of their immediate financial worries at a time when they are still too traumatised to work out how to provide for the future.

Trial Lawyers Care President Larry Stewart
"The level of compensation will depend on the family circumstances"
See also:

21 Dec 01 | Business
First 11 September lawsuit filed
20 Dec 01 | Americas
Ground Zero fires finally out
15 Nov 01 | Business
US air crash victims favoured
11 Dec 01 | Americas
Tracing the WTC dead
14 Sep 01 | Business
Insurance costs 'incalculable'
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