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Some Law Firms Abandon 9/11 Zadroga Act Clients

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Some law firms have abandoned their 9/11 Zadroga Act clients. Apparently, the law firms are refusing to represent these clients further, as federal Zadroga Act rules ban additional billing of existing clients represented in a court settlement with the city.

In one case, a law firm that received over $200 million for fees and expenses in the settlement, which involved over 10,000 Ground Zero workers, has announced that it will not represent those workers who file claims under the Act, saying rules prevent them from billing these client for additional work, The New York Post reported.

The Zadroga Law does not prevent clients from being maintained by the firm; however, attorneys who have collected a 25% fee from the $680 million city settlement are not permitted to charge clients any more, said The Post. Other attorneys can charge a 10% fee.

Unfotunately, this has caused some 9/11 first responders hoping to file compensation claims under the federal Zadroga Act to be, essentially, dropped by some of the attorneys who benefited massively in the World Trade Center Toxic Dust Settlement case, which was finalized in 2010 by New York City, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and a number of contractors involved in Ground Zero clean-up efforts. The settlement amount was set aside for responders who suffered myriad health problems following the attacks.

John Feal, a 9/11 responder advocate described the move as “disturbing and appalling,” noting that the firm had routinely led the clients to believe it would continue to represent them. “This firm made over $200 million from the mass tort—you would think there would be a moral obligation to represent those sick and dying under Zadroga pro bono,” he said, according to The Post.

The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act reopenedthe September 11 Victim Compensation Fund for five years. The Fund is meant to provide payment for job and financial losses for first responders trapped in the buildings, area residents, and people who suffered illness or injuries related to Ground Zero’s toxic dust.

Not all law firms are ditching clients on whose settlements they cannot double-dip. The national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, is one firm that has announced its commitment to stand by Ground Zero responders, continuing to represent them in both World Trade Center Toxic Dust Settlement and Zadroga Act claims.

In addition to being exposed to toxic chemicals produced at Ground Zero, first responders suffered mental trauma and trauma-related respiratory trouble. Sadly, first responders have been fighting since the attacks to obtain appropriate health care coverage funding for injuries they suffered and continue to suffer due to their exposure to the toxins and trauma of that horrific event.

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