From 9/11 to Orlando, Ken Feinberg’s Alter Ego in Compensating Victims

Ms. Biros is not a lawyer. Her background is in business administration, and she doubles as the business manager for the firm. In contrast with her bigger-than-life boss, she is low-key and matter-of-fact. “Camille has a quiet reserve that does not invite a lot of casual socializing,” said Mayanne Downs, the city attorney of Orlando, Fla., who helped choose Feinberg to distribute charitable funds to victims of last year’s Pulse nightclub massacre.

In the past 16 years, Ms. Biros has quietly handed out $15.4 billion to thousands of victims of shootings, car crashes, pollution, sexual abuse and terrorist attacks. “There’s me,” said Mr. Feinberg, “and there’s Camille. And that’s basically it.”

The goal with many of these payments is grounded in stark financial reality: Offer victims enough compensation quickly enough, and they will agree not to sue. But the cases can be emotional and vexing.

And there are unexpected curve balls. How do you handle a case — such as the Orlando shooting — in which the parents of several victims who died didn’t want to acknowledge their children’s same-sex partners? In situations like those, who should receive the compensation?

Ms. Biros, 68, was born into an Italian family in Canarsie, Brooklyn, in 1949. She moved to Toms River, N.J., when she was 13. Her father was a shoemaker and, later, a maintenance worker at Ciba-Geigy, while her mother was a homemaker and sometime seamstress. In 1972 she married Mark J. Biros, a law student at the time, and moved to Washington. (He is a partner at the law firm Proskauer Rose. They have two children and two grandchildren.)

Photo

Client bills and other documents in Ms. Biros’s office in Washington.

Credit
Andrew Mangum for The New York Times

In 1979 she got a job as the administrative assistant to Mr. Feinberg, who was then Senator…

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