Schneider v. Feinberg

345 F.3d 135 (2003)

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Schneider v. Feinberg

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
345 F.3d 135 (2003)

Facts

Cheryl Schneider and other family members of individuals who died on September 11, 2001, (families) (plaintiffs) sued Special Master Kenneth Feinberg (defendant) to challenge the compensation-awards process promulgated by Feinberg to administer the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (fund). Congress created the fund as part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act of 2001 to compensate the families of persons who were injured or killed during September 11 terrorist attacks for economic and noneconomic damages. Per the act, the fund was administered by a special master who determined the amount of compensation a claimant received based on individual circumstances, including financial need and deductions for personal consumption. The act did not impose a cap on the amount of compensation any claimant could receive. Feinberg promulgated regulations and established an award scheme with tables calculated up to the 98th percentile of income for the year 2000. Prior to filing a claim for her deceased husband, Schneider attended informal meetings with Feinberg, in which Schneider presented an expert report indicating that her family’s lost income was likely over $28 million. Feinberg’s consultants estimated Schneider’s loss closer to $14 million, but Feinberg stated he would not compensate anyone more than $6 million. The other families also met with Feinberg and were similarly told that awards would not be based on the lost income of high-earners. Schneider and the families challenged Feinberg’s procedures via the Administrative Procedure Act, claiming that Feinberg’s regulations violated the act by imposing a compensation-cap and considering financial need and other deductions when determining awards. Feinberg moved for summary judgment, and Schneider and the families filed a counter-motion. The trial court granted summary judgment to Feinberg and dismissed the claims of Schneider and the families. Schneider and the families appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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