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September 11th Victim Comensation Fund

September 11th Victim Comensation Fund

“The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund” has launched a new website, www.vcf.gov.  For more information about the Fund, please go to www.vcf.gov

On January 2, 2011, President Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-347) (Zadroga Act).  Title II of the Zadroga Act reactivates the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 that operated from 2001-2003 and requires a Special Master, appointed by the Attorney General, to provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes.  The Zadroga Act expands the pool of applicants eligible for the Fund to include individuals who experienced injuries associated with the attacks or subsequent debris removal.

On May 18, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Sheila L. Birnbaum will head the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund program. On June 21, 2011, the Special Master published proposed rules to govern the Fund’s operations. Between June 21 and August 5, the Special Master accepted comments on those proposed rules and held public meetings to discuss the program before it begins operation later this year. On August 31, 2011, the Special Master published the final rules for the operation of the VCF in the Federal Register.  To read the final rules, click here.

Sheila Birnbaum, a life-long New Yorker, has decades of experience resolving complicated litigation.  She gained recognition for her work mediating a settlement of $500 million for 92 families of victims of the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. 

Birnbaum grew up in the Bronx, the daughter of a grocery store owner in Harlem.  She attended James Monroe High School and later attended Hunter College as the first person in her family to attend college.  She taught the fourth grade at P.S. 62 in the Bronx before attending NYU Law School.  Since law school, she has taught at both Fordham Law School and NYU Law School, where she became Associate Dean.  She is now a partner at a New York law firm.

Birnbaum has an extensive career in public service.  She has served on the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities; as Executive Director for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s Task Force for Racial, Ethnic and Gender Fairness; and as President of the New York Women’s Bar Association.

In 2006, 9/11 victims and corporate defendants jointly asked Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein to appoint Birnbaum to mediate 95 wrongful death and personal injury cases.  Birnbaum successfully mediated 92 of them.  Judge Hellerstein called her work “extraordinary” and noted that she had gained credibility with the 9/11 community.  In a March 5, 2009 order, Hellerstein wrote, “She allowed each of the plaintiffs’ families to express their loss and the quality of the lives lost on September 11.  She absorbed their losses and their pain with empathy. . . .  She gained plaintiffs’ confidence.”