Compensating the Victims of Catastrophe: The Virginia Tech Victims Assistance Program

Volume 93

93 Va. L. Rev. Online 181
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In the wake of the April 16, 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, which claimed the lives of thirty-two victims and injured scores of faculty and students, the Virginia Tech School Administration announced the creation of “The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.” This Fund of approximately $7.5 million—the result of unsolicited private donations from some 20,000 individuals around the globe—will be distributed to the victims and their families pursuant to a proposed Victims Assistance Program Protocol, which delineates the terms and conditions of victim eligibility and levels of compensation. The program stands in sharp contrast to its well publicized predecessor, The Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, enacted into law by Congress eleven days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Although the differences in the two Funds vastly outweigh any similarities, there are important lessons to be drawn in contrasting the two compensation regimes. And in two critically important respects—the need for transparency in publicizing the programs, and providing eligible claimants procedural due process and the opportunity to be heard—the contrasting programs actually track one another.

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