The Penn State Disaster Pool

So this is interesting:

“The mediator who managed the Sept. 11 victims-compensation fund and settlements with those affected by the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill has been hired by Pennsylvania State University in the hope of settling the civil claims of Jerry Sandusky’s victims.

The university announced Thursday that it had hired Kenneth R. Feinberg to facilitate negotiations for the four current lawsuits and more expected to be filed by those sexually abused by the former assistant football coach.”

One way to read this is that PSU is going to make available a large pool of money to a diverse victim class, and has hired Feinberg for his expertise dividing complex pies in ways that leave most folks relatively satisfied.  But there’s another reading that seems at least plausible.  Associating with Feinberg transmutes the human errors which enabled Sandusky’s crimes into a “disaster”, implying less particularized responsibility.  Plaintiffs refusing to partake in the common pool can potentially be framed as selfish, grasping, etc.  That so even though almost by definition, these disaster pools allocate less money to every plaintiff than their individual claims are “worth”.

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5 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Mazel tov — nice to see you dip your toe into critical discourse analysis!

  2. Dave Hoffman says:

    If I knew what that was, I probably would be even more pleased with myself.

  3. Max Kennerly says:

    I can see that impression, but that’s mostly just because of Feinberg’s big public work lately. He’s been mediating much more private individual cases for years. It’s a bit strange to see PSU reach so far out of PA for a mediator, but that’s probably a wise move, it removes any idea of pro/con feelings about PSU. And, more to the point, PSU needs the best mediator it can get.

  4. Howard Wasserman says:

    I agree about the “disaster” perception. But does it make a difference to the perception that the fund is being established a) voluntarily (rather than as part of a settlement, as with BP) and b) by the alleged wrongdoer itself (as opposed to the 9/11 fund)?

  5. Sasha says:

    Would there be any way to count how many of these common/disaster pools have occurred? And if you could, would it be possible to empirically estimate the reduced award one would receive by participating in such a pool?