Lawyers Journal

MBA urges Attorney General Coakley to oversee future One Fund distributions

The Massachusetts Bar Association has urged Attorney General Martha Coakley to actively intervene in the administration of the One Fund and its ongoing awarding of compensatory funds to injured victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Numerous counsel to victims have raised serious concerns that the protocol used by the One Fund to make awards has resulted in victims, who suffered very serious injuries, receiving either very low sums or no award at all. The MBA has called on Coakley to oversee the future distributions from the One Fund after the departure of fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg.

Attorney Feinberg has now disclosed that although victims submitted descriptions of actual injuries with their claims, he considered none of this critical information and instead based the vast majority of his recent awards solely on the length of hospitalizations or on whether victims sought emergency outpatient treatment following the bombing. By using this measure as a supposed proxy for injury severity, Feinberg overlooked the fact that many victims, particularly those who are suffering sensory or cognitive impairments, had injuries that were not immediately apparent, or not diagnosed, until days later and therefore did not result in extensive hospitalizations. For victims like the Alabama doctor whose hearing loss has caused him to shut his practice, or the international aid worker who suffered a traumatic brain injury and can no longer work (neither were hospitalized), Feinberg's protocol means they received the lowest possible award, just $8,000 each, from the $61 million distributed.

It is the MBA's hope that under the Attorney General's oversight, future One Fund donations can be used to remedy some of the inequities of Feinberg's short-sighted protocol. If that occurs, the One Fund will be the resounding success its donors expect and all of the victims of the Marathon bombing surely deserve.

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association