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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 18, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 8
Special Master of the 9/11 Fund to Discuss 'What Is Life Worth?'

The Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute will host the fourth Robert H. Levi Lecture in Bioethics and Public Policy at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, in 110 Hodson Hall on the Homewood campus.

The speaker is Kenneth R. Feinberg, special master of the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, who will discuss his experiences administering the program that offered victims of the attacks and their surviving family members an alternative to litigation.

As special master, Feinberg managed all claims brought by the victims and their families and disseminated all public information concerning the fund. He will discuss his duties within the claims process and will share stories about his interaction with relatives and friends of victims of the attack and survivors who were injured.

Focusing on the practical and emotional difficulties of running this "deceptively simple but hideously complex" program, he will address these major issues:

Should families of high-salary decedents receive more money than families of low-salary decedents and, if so, how much more?

Should families of people who died on Sept. 11 be treated differently than families of people who died during other attacks, such as the Oklahoma City bombing?

If another similar attack happens, should Congress enact a similar fund?

He also will explore several legal issues that arose from the way in which the fund was developed and executed.

Feinberg is an attorney and one of the nation's leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He has been a court-appointed special settlement master on numerous cases, most recently as one of three arbitrators selected to determine the fair market value of the original Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and as one of two arbitrators selected to determine the allocation of legal fees in the Holocaust slave labor litigation.

The Robert H. Levi Lecture in Bioethics and Public Policy was established in 1997 in honor of the late Robert H. Levi, an alumnus and trustee of both The Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. His wife, Ryda, and his three children, Richard Levi, Alex Levi and Sandra Levi Gerstung, designed the Robert H. Levi Leadership Program in Bioethics and Public Policy. Alex Levi is currently a member of the university board of trustees and the Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute national advisory board. The program is designed to inspire intensive moral discussion about critical issues in social policy and medicine.

The lecture will be followed by a reception. For more information, contact Stephanie Davis at 410-516-0415 or


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