Lawyer Ken Feinberg has been described as "an umpire" and as "playing God" after major American catastrophes. For decades he has been in charge of deciding how victims of tragedy are compensated for their losses.
He was in charge of settlements arising from the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the BP oil spill, several mass shootings, the Boston Marathon bombings and the Penn State molestation cases involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Earlier this month, Penn State settled with a 25-year-old man sexually abused on campus by Sandusky in 2001.
"It is the first of 26 claims to be settled in the Sandusky scandal, with the others expected early this week," reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. "The university has approved spending $60 million for the payouts."
In the wake of tragedy, Feinberg has been tasked with calculating a value for individual lives and limbs.
In May, Feinberg spoke to groups in Boston to explain One Fund Boston, which is being used to compensate those injured by the bombings and the families of the dead.
From The New York Times:
Whether it is figuring out the different compensation amounts for shrimpers versus oystermen from the $20 billion fund for the Gulf oil spill or trying to assign dollar amounts to the varieties of brutal injuries caused by crude pressure cooker bombs, the work is exacting, intense and leaves almost nobody happy.
The questions, as Mr. Feinberg told the Boston audience with characteristically dramatic flair, "I believe, would defy Solomon."
Here's one: How much money will there be? Answer: Not enough. The 9/11 fund, which was created by a unique act of Congress, provided public, tax-free financing for victims that ultimately came to $7 billion. The One Fund Boston, by comparison, has collected $30 million in contributions and pledges from 50,000 donors.
"If you had a billion dollars you could not have enough money to deal with all of the problems that ought to be addressed by these attacks," he said in Boston.
LEARN MORE ABOUT FEINBERG:
• Meet Kenneth Feinberg: The man who puts a price on pain
Blunt yet sympathetic. Good with a calculator under pressure. Loves doing pro-bono work as a hobby. Because of all of those attributes, arbitration attorney Kenneth Feinberg is asked again and again to take on the awful task of putting price tags on pain, suffering and even human life. (NBC News)
• Justice, Louisiana Style
Feinberg had insisted that the victims sign documents agreeing not to sue BP — a main goal for the company, which was hoping to avoid the kind of drawn-out litigation that went on after the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill. (New York Times)
• White House Appoints a Pay Czar
Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw payouts to 9/11 victims, will keep tabs on executive pay at companies in bailout. (Wall Street Journal)
• BP's Robert Dudley on the Gulf Oil Spill's Legal Aftermath
During the Ken Feinberg settlement process, more than $6 billion was paid out. [BP hired Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg to oversee claims payments.] And then we made a deal with a plaintiffs' steering committee to complete the process of paying out to legitimate victims of the spill. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
• A "60 Minutes" profile