Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Each of the families of the 49 victims killed in the massacre at the gay nightclub Pulse will get $350,000 from the OneOrlando Fund this week, though privately, they still have to iron out who will get what funds.
Currently, about half of the families of the 49 victims are fighting with other family members and partners over claims to the fund, says Alex Martins, chair of the OneOrlando board and president of the Orlando Magic. If these disputes are not resolved, they head to probate court.
"We do have a number of disputes amongst families of the dead," Martins says. "It's parents in dispute with a partner, who perhaps they didn't know, or estranged parents, claiming one of them should receive the funds."
No amount of money will ever erase the horrific events of June 12, but Martins says the board is hopeful the money will help families with the healing process. The OneOrlando Fund received $29.5 million from various sources, which will now be divided between families and survivors of the mass shooting. The funds will be distributed through the end of this week, Martins says.
The families of the deceased victims received a larger share of the funds, totaling about $17.2 million. The 37 survivors who were hospitalized after the shooting will receive anywhere from $65,000 to $300,000 depending on how many nights they spent at the hospital, while 31 people who required outpatient treatment for their injuries will get $35,000 each. An additional 182 patrons of Pulse who were there when the shooting began but not injured will received $25,000 each.
Martins says 44 claims were rejected either because they were duplicate claims from family members or because the FBI couldn't determine those people had been at Pulse or were hospitalized after the shooting.
At least one person is already suing over OneOrlando funds. Jillian Amador, a woman who says she was injured during the Pulse shooting, has filed a lawsuit asking a judge for an audit of the OneOrlando Fund before the money is distributed. The judge denied Amador's petition for an emergency hearing but scheduled a hearing for Oct. 6.
Martins says the lawsuit will not delay disbursements unless a judge stops them and added that completing an audit of the OneOrlando Fund now would be difficult because no money has been given out yet. Amador argues in her petition that without a pre-audit, it will be hard to get that money back if there are errors.
"We need the entire process to be complete before we can thoroughly give a public audit that will give feedback on every segment of what we did," Martins says. "And we will do that."