The OneOrlando Fund has begun accepting claims from victims and the families of victims of the June 12 Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 dead and dozens more injured. The entirety of the fund, which has raised an estimated $23 million, is expected to be disbursed, according to Kenneth Feinberg, the fund’s administrator.
To be eligible, claims must be postmarked by Sept. 12, according to the OneOrlando website. Claim forms can also be found on the site. Payment distribution is expected to begin on a rolling basis on Sept. 27, according to a city spokesperson.
“These are individual victims who were shot or trapped in the nightclub,” said Feinberg. “They are the only victims eligible under this program.”
Feinberg said that he expects 49 claims on behalf of the deceased victims plus a couple of hundred physical injury claims. With death claims, questions for Feinberg and the board to evaluate include eligibility, who is authorized to file the claim and who will be receiving the money. The severity of the injury and length of hospital stay will be factored into injury claims, he said.
In the weeks between the claims deadline and first disbursements, Feinberg will make recommendations to the OneOrlando board, chaired by Alex Martins, president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Each accepted claim will be given a recommended dollar amount that will be up for the board to approve, similar to how fund protocols were set up, Feinberg said.
An independent audit will precede the disbursement, allowing for donors and the public to see “how many dollars went in and how many went out.” Those overseeing the fund are working on a pro-bono basis, Feinberg said, with all dollars going to victims. Feinberg, himself, said that he works at the pleasure of the board and Mayor Buddy Dyer, and will stay on as they wish. He expects, however, to leave following the disbursement cycle.
The entirety of the estimated $23 million raised to date will disbursed immediately, but Feinberg added that a future disbursement might take place should additional dollars come in, a decision that will be for the board to decide. Dollars from the Department of Justice, that might or might not come in given the criminal nature of the incident, are not being factored into OneOrlando’s plans, he said.
Feinberg served as special master for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 and the claims administrator for the One Fund Boston, the Virginia Tech Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund and the Aurora Victim Relief Fund among other roles. He said the OneOrlando’s strategy mirrors that of past funds. “It’s worked in the past,” he said referencing previous funds. “Outreach to the community, town hall meetings, careful deliberation. I think it’s working again in Orlando.”
How the implementation of the strategy will differ from previous funds has yet to be seen. Feinberg predicted that there might be more disputes among family members and partners over who will receive payments on behalf of deceased victims. Florida law will dictate who receives payments, he said.