Friday, March 12, 2010

9/11: Lawyers for over 10,000 police, firefighters, construction workers and others who suffered injuries, reach settlement with City of New York

A settlement has been reached between lawyers representing over 10,000 police, firefighters, construction workers and others who suffered injuries while working at ground zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the City of New York and its contractors. The $657 million settlement ensures that those who participated in search and rescue and clean-up efforts, many of whom are permanently disabled as a result, will receive just compensation for the adverse health consequences of their work.

The settlement will be drawn from a federally financed insurance fund - the WTC Captive Insurance Company - that was created in 2004 with a $1 billion FEMA grant that the U.S. Congress appropriated in 2003. This Congressional appropriation was specifically earmarked to handle claims arising against the City by workers who were injured. It will be distributed by a neutral third party who will be chosen by attorneys for the plaintiffs and lawyers for the Captive. The amounts of recovery will be determined based on a comprehensive analysis of the severity of each individual's illness. Estimated recovery amounts range from thousands of dollars to some in excess of a million dollars for the most serious injuries. In addition, individuals who develop cancer in the future will be covered by an insurance policy designated for that purpose.

"This is a good settlement and we are gratified that these heroic men and women who performed their duties without consideration of the health implications, will finally receive just compensation for their pain and suffering, lost wages, medical and other expenses, as the US Congress intended when it appropriated this money," said Marc J. Bern a senior partner with the law firm Worby, Groner, Edelman & Napoli, Bern, LLP that is representing over 9,000 litigants. "The police officers, fire fighters, electricians, construction workers, volunteers and so many others all played critical roles in helping our city recover after the devastating attack on our country on 9/11 and we owe them a great debt."

In order to assess the nature and severity of each individual's injuries, attorneys consulted with numerous medical experts including epidemiologists, toxicologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists and others over the six year course of this litigation. Standards were adopted based on criteria set forth by the American Medical Association and American Thoracic Society and the medical records of every litigant were reviewed against those standards.

Plaintiffs' attorneys have been working on this litigation for six years without compensation. They will be paid a percentage of the settlement in accordance with the individual fee contracts entered into with each litigant. The attorneys have spent tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours in staff time preparing 10,000 individual cases with over 600,000 individual claims, defended against hundreds of motions brought by the city to avoid liability in the federal district and appellate courts, reviewed over 20 million pages of documents produced in discovery and retained countless medical experts to ensure the veracity of each individual's claims.

There will be an open hearing Friday, March 12 at 2:00 PM in the court room of Federal District Court Judge Alfred Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York at which lawyers for the parties will be available to explain the settlement and answer questions.

Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern is a joint venture that was created by two law firms to litigate 9/11 claims.

Source: Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, LL

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