Counting the cost: the 9/11 mother who turned down $2 million

The Boston Globe this morning profiles a lawyer, Ken Feinberg, who negotiated settlements with the families of 9/11 victims — and he remembers one family member in particular:

There was an elderly woman whose son had died in New York. She never responded to any of the solicitations about the settlements, failed to return any of the paperwork, and wouldn’t so much as take a phone call from Feinberg’s office.

As the deadline loomed to file for funds in late 2003, Feinberg personally paid her a visit. He remembers driving deep into Brooklyn, down a modest street to a small apartment house, and climbing stairs to where she lived. She met him at the door.

They sat at her kitchen table as he explained that she was entitled to the money. Congress had passed the legislation. The president signed it. The average payment to a survivor would be more than $2 million.

“ ‘Mrs. Jones,’ I said, ‘the fund is going to expire,’ ’’ Feinberg recalled. “ ‘I’ll help you fill out the forms.’ ’’

He explained that virtually every family of all those killed in the attacks accepted the settlement. Most survivors needed the money to live. Of those who didn’t, many used it for charitable work in the name of their loved one. She should sign the form and do with the settlement whatever she chose, he said. She looked Feinberg in the eye and replied, “I lost my son and you’re here to talk about money?’’

Read it all.

Comments

  1. Only two declined? What an amazing piece, and an amazing statistic. I can understand her mother’s heart. No money would make a difference.

  2. I cannot criticize this kind of grief.

    “A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.”

    If Rachel refused to be comforted, I can’t see her taking money, either.

  3. Very touching and truly understand her. In the other hand there were survivors whose main breadwinner died in the attack, children who lost mother or father and were left without the financial support that it entails. Of course money will not make up for the terrible losses, but it will help those families whose loss meant an uncertain financial future.

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