After the attacks, the United States government immediately began to address the exorbitant number of problems and issues that resulted. One of the first issues the government addressed was victim compensation. The creation of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund by virtue of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act was the first step towards victim compensation. The VCF would help relatives and families of those killed in the attacks. However, the VCF has several limitations that narrow the scope of those eligible for compensation. The limitations of the VCF are indirectly creating a new two-pronged problem: the first prong is that many have found the VCF to be an inadequate method of exacting a measure of justice; some relatives and individuals representing those killed on September 11th have filed lawsuits against foreign parties and organizations believed to be partially or directly responsible. These litigants will likely find the same frustrating conclusion that previous litigants have found when dealing with this type of litigation scenario. The second prong, embedded in the limitations of the VCF, has precluded many from participating in the compensation fund; as a result, they have begun to seek other means of compensation by filing lawsuits against United States companies and governmental agencies. This second prong has the potential to create a relative legal crisis that could be comparable to the asbestos litigation of the 1980s and 1990s. I propose an alternative means to the litigation which stems from the events of September 11th in this article: the United States should establish a compensatory fund and tribunal. This will serve as a means of dealing with the litigation stemming from the events of September 11th, 2001. This model balances the resources and constraints of the United States government and legal system against the needs of the victims of September 11th. The model proposed here goes beyond the VCF: it is more inclusive in its scope and coverage and is modeled after international reparations tribunals. I will start by reviewing the VCF and discuss its history, policies, and limitations. I will then explore the two-pronged problem mentioned above by first looking at lawsuits being filed against foreign parties and then examine lawsuits being filed in the domestic arena. Next, I will review various international reparations tribunals that have been used in recent decades. Based on these factors, I propose that some form of a compensatory fund and tribunal be established to address these problems. In the final section of this article, I will discuss some particular matters and issues relevant to the idea of establishing a compensatory fund of this type. The morning of September 11th, 2001 created myriad problems, issues, and challenges which will occupy our country for years. Accordingly, the solution to these problems lies in extraordinary measures.
A. David E. Balahadia,
Preparations for a Storm: A Proposal for Managing the Litigation Stemming from September 11th, 2001 ,
4 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J.
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