Feinberg: Boeing deserves credit for $50M community investment fund

Attorney will distribute remaining $50 million of fund to communities affected by the deadly crashes

Victim compensation attorney Kenneth Feinberg, picked by Boeing to oversee its $100 million victim compensation fund, said Thursday the biggest challenge will be determining where and how the money should be distributed.

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The aerospace giant enlisted Feinberg and Camille Biros earlier this week to distribute the remaining $50 million of the fund to communities affected by the deadly crashes of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines flight in Ethiopia. This includes local community projects and programs that are of interest to the families, like education programs, water treatment and providing food for the hungry, according to Feinberg.

The accidents, both involving the Boeing 737 Max, together killed 346 people and led to the aircraft's grounding worldwide in March 2019.

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"Camille and I have the responsibility that the money will be protected, it will be used for those purposes, it will not be wasted, and it's going to be a challenge, no question," Feinberg told FOX Business' Neil Cavuto on Thursday.

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Indonesian investigators inspect the wreckage of an engine from Lion Air Flight JT 610 recovered from the sea at the Tanjung Priok port on November 4, 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Feinberg and Biros were tapped by Boeing last year to distribute the first $50 million to the crash victim's families, which equates to $144,500 per each person.

"This is Boeing's attempt through independent evaluation by Camille and myself to reach out to the families and to try and do something constructive, something that will improve not only the families' financial situation, but the local community," he said." And Boeing deserves some credit for that, I think."

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Most notably, Feinberg has headed the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, as well as those related to other tragedies including the Virginia Tech shootings, the BP oil spill, the General Motors ignition switch recall and the Pulse nightclub shootings. He was also appointed by the Justice Department in 2016 to oversee distributing money through a state-sponsored terrorism fund, which includes compensating Americans who were held hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran in 1979.

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Feinberg said Boeing's compensation fund has "nothing to do whatsoever" with litigation against the company and differs from the Sept. 11 fund as it does not require a person receiving the money to release their right to litigate. Instead, the attorney said Boeing's program is similar to those associated with the marathon and shootings at Virginia Tech and the Pulse nightclub.

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"Those programs, you could take that money as a gift," Feinberg said. "There was no requirement that you release your right to litigate. You could take that money and hire a lawyer if you wanted to."