If Ken Feinberg wants to add "quickly and successfully settled Penn State claims on the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal" to his resume, he's going to have to think outside the box.
That was the point made by attorneys for several of the men suing the university for its handling of the sex-abuse allegations against its former defensive coordinator and convicted child rapist, Jerry Sandusky. The plaintiffs attorneys said there's simply no precedential guidance for a case where top administrators who knew of allegations against a staff member but let the claims stop at their desks for years while the abuse persisted, as alleged, in neighboring corners of the university.
Penn State announced last week it would be bringing on Feinberg and his partner Michael K. Rozen who worked on the 9/11 victim fund, settlements related to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and other massive victim compensation plans to "facilitate the possible settlement" of outstanding litigation related to claims of sex abuse by Sandusky.
Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse in June, awaits a near-certain effective life sentence scheduled to be handed down next month.
If there's no case like Penn State's, there's no settlement amount to guide it, plaintiffs lawyers said.
"If Penn State is going to evaluate this under conventional values, I don't think [the claims] will ever get resolved," said Slade McLaughlin, who represents a man known in court papers as Victim 1.
McLaughlin cited what he called the "outrage factor" and the prevalence of the abuse in distinguishing his client's claim.
If the Penn State legal team says: "Let's canvass the country and see where they've settled If that's the position they take, I don't think [the university] will be well received by our client."
Thomas R. Kline, who is representing a man known as Victim 5, agreed.
"In order to resolve these claims, Penn State, through Feinberg, of necessity is going to need to think outside of what they perceive as historical values of these claims given the nature of the misconduct and the gravity of the claims," Kline said. "There is no cookie-cutter approach that can be used to settle the claims. I don't view conventional mediation as a tool to settle the claims."