Va. Tech Relatives Seeking Payment
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
RICHMOND, July 17 The families of some of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre are drawing up plans to ask the state to create a multimillion-dollar fund that would compensate them for their losses and pay for new programs to bolster campus safety across the nation.
Thomas J. Fadoul Jr., a Vienna lawyer who says he represents the relatives of 22 slain students, said the fund should be modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which Congress created in 2001 to distribute more than $7 billion to victims of the terrorist attacks and their relatives.
Fadoul said he is not sure how large the Virginia Tech fund would need to be. But he said the relatives of the 32 slain students and faculty members are entitled to "at least what the 9/11 people got."
The families of those killed Sept. 11, 2001, collected awards averaging $2 million. Payouts for the injured averaged almost $400,000.
Like the recipients of the Sept. 11 funds, the relatives of the Virginia Tech victims probably would give up their right to sue before they could receive a direct payment.
"We think enough money can be raised, much like the 9/11 fund, where the families can be properly taken care of, to the extent they have requirements for health, mental and physical and other financial needs, and there are a lot of them," Fadoul said.
The proposal could be finalized by the relatives as early as Wednesday, but Fadoul said the families still need to reach consensus. He cautioned that their requests could change.
On Monday, the administrator of the $7 million Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which Virginia Tech established to receive donations in the days after the April 16 shootings, drew up recommendations for direct payments to the victims.
Kenneth R. Feinberg, who administered the Sept. 11 fund, said he will recommend that the families of those killed at Virginia Tech receive $150,000, and the injured get $25,000 to $75,000.
Feinberg said he would also recommend that anyone who was in Norris Hall, where most of the shootings occurred, receive one year of free tuition or $8,000.
But Fadoul said the families deserve far more money. The relatives also want to create a fund large enough to develop innovative ways to increase campus safety nationwide. They are not sure what form the programs would take.
Fadoul said he and his clients have been discussing their proposal and held a meeting Tuesday night in Charlottesville. He said they could unveil it as early as Wednesday while attending the fourth meeting of the Virginia Tech Review Panel, which is being held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.