Panel Discusses State Formula For Compensating Fair Victims

The results could serve as a guide for responding to future tragedies.

State Fair

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WFIU

Mitch Daniels addresses a crowd at the Indiana State Fair in the aftermath of an accident which took the lives of five people.

A panel met Tuesday to discuss whether the state’s formula for compensating State Fair stage collapse victims was fair.

Ken Feinberg is a nationally-recognized expert in victim compensation. He worked on the 9-11 victims fund, the Virginia Tech shooting and the BP oil spill. He also helped develop Indiana’s model for distributing five million dollars of tort funds to 62 stage collapse victims.

Feinberg says every compensation case presents unique challenges. In Indiana’s case, he says it was the limited pool of money.

“What is the expectation of victims about what they ought to receive or what compensation should be made to them? You’re dealing with a very limited fund,” Feinberg says.

The panel also included the Attorney General and attorneys for the victims. Tony Patterson represents several of the victims. He says, because of the resource constraints, criticism has been focused on the limited scope of the compensation formula.

“Did it consider all the elements of a torts claim, such as lost wages, such as future medical bills, such as pain, the loss of enjoyment of life and the impact on the individuals? It really focused on the medical expenses,” Patterson says.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says he hopes future leaders will look to Indiana’s compensation model and Tuesday’s discussion as a road map for compensating victims of large-scale incidents.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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