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Thursday, March 11, 2010

10,000 American 911 Heroes Cash In On Ground Zero Lawsuit


"Can I get my $100 back?"


It really is Ground Zero. Zero shame. Zero honor. Zero buildings and ten thousand zeroes who slimed down to disgrace themselves and their country.


Ground Zero Workers Reach Deal Over Health Claims

NY Times

A settlement of up to $657.5 million has been reached in the cases of thousands of rescue and cleanup workers at ground zero who sued the city over damage to their health, according to city officials and lawyers for the plaintiffs.

They said that the settlement would compensate about 10,000 plaintiffs according to the severity of their illnesses and the level of their exposure to contaminants at the World Trade Center site.

Lawyers from both sides met on Thursday to discuss the terms of the settlement with Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Payouts to the plaintiffs would come out of a federally financed insurance company with funds of about $1.1 billion that insures the city. At least 95 percent of the plaintiffs must accept its terms for it to take effect. If 100 percent of the plaintiffs agree to the terms, the total settlement would be $657.5 million. But if only the required 95 percent agreed, the total would shrink to $575 million.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs estimated that individual settlement amounts would vary from thousands of dollars to more than $1 million for the most serious injuries.

The settlement, which took two years to negotiate, raises the prospect of an end to years of complex and politically charged litigation that has pitted angry victims against city officials, who questioned the validity of some claims and argued that the city should be immune from liability.

“This is a good settlement,” said Marc Bern, a lawyer with a firm that represents more than 9,000 plaintiffs, “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 U.S. Congress intended when it appropriated this money.”

In a statement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called the settlement “a fair and reasonable resolution to a complex set of circumstances.”

Under the settlement, a claims administrator, who will be chosen by the lawyers in the case, would decide whether a given plaintiff had a valid claim, whether the plaintiff qualified for compensation and if so, for how much. The system is similar to the one used for payouts from the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund to families of those killed in the terrorist attacks. The process is meant to screen out fraudulent claims.

Since 2003, thousands of firefighters, police officers, construction workers and emergency responders have filed lawsuits against 90 defendants — including the city and the private companies it hired to remove debris at ground zero — over illnesses they say developed after they spent days, weeks or months working at the World Trade Center site after the attacks.

The plaintiffs claimed that their conditions — most commonly asthma and other respiratory illnesses — resulted from the toxic brew of contaminants at ground zero and the defendants’ failure to adequately supervise and protect them with safety equipment, like respirators. Among the first cases chosen for trial was that of a 47-year-old firefighter, Raymond W. Hauber, who died of esophageal cancer in 2007 before his case could be heard.

Some of the cases that fall under the settlement involve plaintiffs who are not ill now, but fear they will develop illnesses like cancer that can take years to manifest themselves. The settlement provides for a $23.4 million insurance policy to cover future claims by such plaintiffs.

The first 12 cases were scheduled to come to trial on May 16 in Manhattan, and those trials will now not take place. But under the settlement, plaintiffs have 90 days to opt out of the settlement and pursue trials.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs would collect a third of the settlement amounts in legal fees. The city-controlled insurance fund financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already paid out more than $200 million in legal fees to defend the city and its contractors and in administrative costs.

To determine individual settlement amounts, the administrator will use a point system to determine the severity of a plaintiff’s illness, as documented by medical history. Other factors that will be considered include evidence of a link to ground zero and adjustments for age, pre-existing conditions, time of diagnosis, smoking history and length of time spent at ground zero.

The process could take up to a year.

Mindful of the intense public interest in the cases, Judge Hellerstein has told lawyers on both sides that he planned to review each settlement and hold “fairness” hearings to determine whether the settlements were reasonable, which legal experts said was unusual for litigation not involving a class action.

“Many of them are similar, but in fundamental aspects they have an individual plaintiff — they all revolve around one person,” Judge Hellerstein told the lawyers at a Jan. 21 hearing. “I’ll be looking carefully, if there is a settlement, at how individual members are treated.”

The city argued that it was immune from damages in cases involving a national emergency or a civil defense disaster. Lawyers for the city also questioned the connection between the illnesses and exposure at ground zero and cast doubt on many of the claims themselves, for example, arguing in the case of a mechanic for Consolidated Edison, which was also to be among the first trials, that the man’s lung and respiratory problems predated 9/11.





14 comments:

  1. Can you 'splain it to me one more time? I'm having a hard time getting it.

    They work for the City, and were hurt on the job? And, they want to be compensated? Is that it?

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  2. Sure, ten thousand city workers hurt. I thought they were heoes, one and all.

    "You hurt boss?" It looks like you are bleeding."
    "Na, just a scratch. Ain't nothing."
    "Just the same. You Better call Finkle & Fuchem, there's money in that gash."

    Their city was attacked. Their fellow citizens killed and injured.

    I didn't have time to investigate and see how it went after Pearl Harbor. I'm sure they used landing craft to bring in the lawyers.

    I wonder what the legal bills for the rescue workers during the London Blitz? Wikipedia is silent on it.

    Heroes, one and all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Payouts to the plaintiffs would come out of a federally financed insurance company with funds of about $1.1 billion that insures the city.

    ReplyDelete
  4. “This is a good settlement,” said Marc Bern, a lawyer with a firm that represents more than 9,000 plaintiffs, “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 U.S. Congress intended when it appropriated this money.”...

    ...Lawyers for the plaintiffs would collect a third of the settlement amounts in legal fees. The city-controlled insurance fund financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already paid out more than $200 million in legal fees to defend the city and its contractors and in administrative costs.

    ReplyDelete
  5. New Yorkers are very sensitive when it comes to dust and salt:

    MYFOXNY.COM - Some New York City chefs and restaurant owners are taking aim at a bill introduced in the New York Legislature that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking.

    "No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises," the bill, A. 10129 , states in part.

    ReplyDelete
  6. BBC News - ‎3 hours ago‎
    Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Sweden after Stockholm voted to describe the killing of Armenians in World War I as genocide.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Reporting from Washington - A pair of influential senators presented President Obama with a three-page blueprint for a bipartisan agreement to overhaul the nation's immigration system, but the proposal's viability is threatened by politics surrounding the healthcare debate.

    Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), in a 45-minute meeting Thursday in the Oval Office, also asked for Obama's help in rounding up enough Republican votes to pass an immigration bill this year.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Graham also said the proposal included "a rational plan to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States." He did not elaborate on what the plan would be. But in a recent interview, he suggested that onerous measures were unrealistic.

    "We're not going to mass-deport people and put them in jail, nor should we," Graham said. "But we need a system so they don't get an advantage over others for citizenship."


    from the LATimes

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  9. HURRY PASS HEALTH BILL so Obama can take the kids on vacation:

    White House: Indonesia is not a vacation!
    By: Julie Mason
    Examiner White House Correspondent
    03/11/10 5:58 PM EST

    Gibbs: This is not a vacation at all.
    President Obama is skipping the annual Gridiron Dinner this year -- heaven forfend! -- because he is taking the family to Indonesia during the girls' spring break from school. The Indonesia stop is part of a six-day trip that will also bring Obama to Guam and Australia.

    The White House initially claimed Obama was skipping the Gridiron -- for the second year in a row -- because he wanted his kids to see the country where he spent four of his formative years.

    But now the administration says Indonesia is no vacation:

    Q: One other thing. Indonesia has been portrayed by some, in some articles, as more of a vacation trip than a policy and diplomacy trip. How much of it is a vacation, taking the family along?

    Gibbs: It's not a vacation at all. I have not seem the criticism that you're referring to.

    Q: It's not criticism. Nobody is criticizing. They're simply saying that part of what he's doing is taking the family to show where he grew up for four years of his life. It's kind of an educational trip for the family.

    Gibbs: As I mentioned earlier, it's the largest Muslim country in the world. The president will build off the speech he gave in Cairo. The president will attend a democracy conference in Indonesia; will highlight counterterrorism. That's the focus of the trip....

    Q: It's not a family education trip, too?

    Gibbs: No, no, not at all.

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  10. I wouldn't be surprised if he took the family to Mecca during the Haj.

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  11. There are probably no more than 100-200 workers that have an actual claim. The World Trade Towers were office buildings, nothing more, nothing less.

    Office buildings are taken down all the time. Once they were down and after a few days, the rescue opertaion became a clean up opertaion.

    The WTC site is on a 16 acre site. 10,000 claims to remove debris from a sixteen acre site?

    ReplyDelete