Jeffrey Epstein estate: Talks underway to settle victim claims
By Mola Lenghi and Cassandra Gauthier
/ CBS News
Lawyers representing women who say they were victims of sexual assault by Jeffrey Epstein were in court Thursday to begin the process for settling claims against the estate worth upwards of $600 million.
Bennet Moskowitz, an attorney for the executors of Epstein's estate said there is "an extraordinary opportunity" to avoid litigation and "conserve judicial resources." He said a team of three would manage future claims, including Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the process for paying claims to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the BP oil spill.
Feinberg, Jordana Feldman and Camille Biros would proceed "with a confidential process" in which there would be "no cap on claims," Moskowitz said.
The hearing lasted 75 minutes and was heated at times.
Roberta Kaplan, who represents an unnamed alleged victim, said that she and other plaintiffs' lawyers had received "radio silence" from Moskowitz for weeks. "We have basically no information" about the estate, Kaplan said. She called it "disrespectful" and said "we have serious doubts" about the settlement process.
Bradley Edwards, who represents multiple alleged victims, said a "slow-developing vague settlement concept" is not ideal as he has "simple cases ready to go" and they don't want to wait.
Judge Debra Freeman said there must be "willingness on both sides" and attorneys "have to do more than just say they're invited to the table" to come to an agreement. She urged the defense to "try harder."
When Judge Freeman asked specific questions about the size of the proposed fund, Moskowitz urged the plaintiffs' attorneys to call Feinberg and Feldman. Judge Freeman told him "you need to be more personally involved."
Moskowitz called it "the most complex estate that I'm aware of."
Lawyers for plaintiffs said there may be more potential victims waiting to file lawsuits or wait for a clear path to a settlement. Kaplan says she has "new women calling the firm" every week. Edwards said he has "potentially dozens" more. The Bloom Firm has up to five additional victims.
Judge Freeman said she is expecting an overall status report by January 10. She wants this to be "as frustration-free as possible."
First published on November 21, 2019 / 2:56 PM
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