Millions of dollars are beginning to be disbursed to the families and survivors of Orlando's Pulse shooting.
The OneOrlando Fund started handing out payments from the $29 million raised to 299 claimants on Monday.
Families of the victims killed in the attack will receive the largest sum: $350,000.
At least half of the 49 deceased patrons have family members and partners fighting over who can claim the money.
“We do have a number of disputes amongst families of the dead,” said Alex Martins, chair of the OneOrlando board and also president of the Orlando Magic basketball team. “It’s parents in dispute with a partner, who perhaps they didn’t know, or it’s estranged parents, claiming each one of them should receive the funds.”
According to Martins, funds will not be distributed until the disputes are resolved. If the claims aren’t settled soon, he said a probate court would be responsible for sorting out who receives the money.
Pulse victims who were hospitalized, 37, will get between $60,000 and $300,000, depending on how long they needed medical care. Those who were injured but were not hospitalized will receive payments of $35,000.
Finally, club-goers who were present at Pulse during the time of the shooting but were not hurt, 182 people, will receive $25,000 each for mental health treatment.
According to Martins, it took a lot of time and discussion to decide how the funds would be divided.
“We significantly increased the amount of money going to those that were in the club, but not injured,” Martins said. “We had a long discussion about the psychological events that many of those individuals are suffering.”
An audit of the OneOrlando Fund has not been conducted, a failure that has Jillian Amador, a patron who fled the nightclub but saw her friends killed, concerned.
Amador, a paralegal, asked a judge twice to issue a temporary stop to the distribution until an audit is performed. The judge denied holding the emergency hearing but did schedule one for next week.
“If there are any problems with the distribution or any problems with the way the money is handed out, there is going to be no recourse to get it back,” said Paul Zeniewicz, Amador’s attorney and employer.
Martins said the OneOrlando Fund would, in the meantime, continue distributing the money.
“Obviously we would abide by a court order, but until that has occurred, if it were to occur, the distribution has already begun,” he noted.