Hundreds of eugenics victims lose initial compensation bid

Posted August 7, 2014 2:45 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2014 11:07 a.m. EDT

— More than 300 people who said they were sterilized under North Carolina's erstwhile eugenics program have been denied compensation after an initial review, officials said Thursday.

Lawmakers last year set aside $10 million in the state budget to provide compensation to victims of the eugenics program, which ran between 1929 and 1974. The exact payment per victim depends on how many people qualify for compensation.

The state Office for Justice of Sterilization Victims received 780 claim forms from potential victims by the June 30 deadline and has already forwarded 565 of those to the state Industrial Commission, which handles all tort claims against the state and is responsible for determining whether a claimant is eligible for compensation.

Members of the Industrial Commission have cleared about 180 of the claims for compensation, determining that another 320 were ineligible, officials said. No initial determination has been made yet on the other 65.

Those denied compensation can supply more medical information and go through several rounds of appeals with the commission and the state Court of Appeals to try to change the ruling.

"Claims are only denied if they do not meet the statutory requirements," the commission said in a statement. "The Commission is an objective decision maker with a duty to follow the law as written."

The Office for Justice of Sterilization Victims is still processing the remaining 215 claims before sending them on to the Industrial Commission.

As many as 1,800 sterilization victims may still be alive, but as of last year, the state's efforts to find them had yielded only 176 people. Families of victims who died before June 30, 2013, aren't eligible for compensation.