Aurora Victim Relief Fund: Victims turn in 52 claims for part of $5 million fund

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Governor John Hickenlooper's office has received 52 claim forms from victims of the Aurora theater shooting, three of which are duplicates, says spokesman Eric Brown. Yesterday was the deadline for victims to turn in forms to claim a portion of the approximately $5 million that was donated to the Aurora Victim Relief Fund.

Fund "special master" Ken Feinberg has offered to meet with victims one-on-one to discuss their claims through November 9. But as of yesterday, Feinberg says he's received just one request -- which doesn't surprise him.

"I would have been surprised if there were more requests," says Feinberg, who helped distribute donations after September 11, the Virginia Tech shooting and the BP oil spill. "People want to move on as best they can. They don't want to revisit all this with me."

He also notes that the protocol for distributing the money that he announced on October 15 is final. "There is no way that an individual, even in private, could convince me to change what everybody understands is the final protocol," he says.

That protocol calls for giving 70 percent of the $5 million to the families of the twelve people who died in the attack and to the victims who suffered life-altering wounds, such as brain injuries and paralysis. The remaining 30 percent will be split among victims who were injured less severely but who required hospitalization nonetheless. Their payments will be based on how long they spent in the hospital. No money will be given to victims who were not physically wounded or hospitalized.

"We don't have enough money," Feinberg explained at a public meeting on October 11. "The psychologically injured should be eligible. I'm not saying they don't have a valid claim. But you're taking money away from the physically injured, the dead, the life-altering injuries."

Brown says the governor's office, which is collecting the forms for Feinberg, will accept forms postmarked November 1 that may arrive in the next few days. By the end of today, he says, all claimants will be notified that their forms were received. The office is still reviewing the forms, Brown says, and doesn't yet have a breakdown of how many claims are from families who lost loved ones and those with life-altering injuries versus how many are from victims who were less seriously injured -- though he confirms that they've received claim forms from victims in all three categories.

The money will be distributed after November 15. Donations will be accepted by check until that date. Checks can be sent to: Aurora Victim Relief Fund c/o Governor's Office, 136 State Capitol, Denver, CO 80203.

Feinberg says he hasn't heard much feedback about his distribution protocol. "A few people called and have been critical. That's understandable," he says. But, he adds, "most people recognize it's the best you can do. It's only $5 million. ... I tried to do the best I could to come up with a formula that is equitable and justifiable."

More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "Aurora theater shooting: Katie Medley among twelve new victims identified."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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