– Lawyers for sick Ground Zero clean-up workers set to pocket more than $400million from lawsuits (Daily Mail, August 8, 2011):
Lawyers acting for both sides in the dispute over ‘Ground Zero Syndrome’ are set for a windfall of more than $400million, it has been been claimed.
Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, the law firm representing about 90 per cent of the police officers, firefighters, rescuers and clean up workers suing New York is set for at least $210.4million.
For the past seven years, the firm has been faced off against lawyers for the city over a $1billion federal fund to pay claims from the World Trade Centre clean up.
The partnership has also signed deals with the Port Authority and five other clients said to be worth a total of $123million.
Speaking to Fox News, John Walcott, a retired NYPD detective with leukemia, who was first to join the lawsuit but has since withdrawn his claim, called the payments ‘atrocious’.
‘People are losing homes, sick and dying,’ he said. ‘The lawyers are just getting wealthier.’
About 10,500 police officers, firefighters rescuers and clean up workers are suing over claims they contracted chronic conditions and diseases from working in the toxic smoke and dust around Ground Zero.
The site on the island of Manhattan was the scene of the worst attack on U.S. since the Second World War when Islamic fundamentalists flew two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.
Some 3,000 were killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001, but many thousands more say their lives have been ruined by contact with the toxic dust and fumes released by the collapse of the buildings.
The revelations about legal costs for the fight for compensation for 9/11 workers come just a week after one man was issued a cheque for zero dollars after his legal fight.
Edgar Galvis, 51, had been expecting $10,005 from a court settlement with Merrill Lynch, awarded for illnesses he contracted after spending six months removing toxic debris from their offices next to the World Trade Center site.
But instead he was devastated to find Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern had taken such a huge slice of his settlement he was left with a cheque for exactly $0.00.
He said: ‘I have hit rock bottom. I was expecting a cheque, and you can imagine how I felt when I opened it. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke.’
Mr Galvis, who is now unemployed and $30,000 in debt, worked for Merrill Lynch for six months to remove toxic debris from their offices in the World Financial Center, next to Ground Zero.
The astonishing cheque came with a letter from the firm saying: ‘It was our pleasure to represent you in this matter.’
Last month, meanwhile, a review found there was no link between the Ground Zero site and cancers subsequently contracted by people working there, dashing the hopes of thousands who had hoped to receive aid from the government.