Lawyers get Ground Zero payout, workers yet to be paid
LAWYERS in the battle over Ground Zero worker compensation could bag up to half of the $US4 billion ($4.6 billion) available to pay September 11 recovery workers for toxic injuries, the New York Post reported today.
The New York Post reported today that defence firms hired by New York to fight some 10,000 claims already raked in close to $200 million. A further $US75 million ($86.4 million) was spent on administrative expenses by the end of 2009.
Lawyers for the workers, who are still unpaid, stand to reap 30 to 40 per cent of all settlements or judgements, based on their retainer agreements with World Trade Center (WTC) emergency responders.
How much money was up for grabs was the big question, now that the first trials for a dozen 9/11 workers were set to start May 16 in Manhattan federal court.
The two sides were said to be in secret intensive discussions that Judge Alvin Hellerstein hoped would settle as many cases as possible.
At stake is a $US1 billion ($1.5 billion) taxpayer fund and as much as $US3 billion ($3.5 billion) in liability insurance coverage.
The WTC Captive Insurance Co., a nonprofit governed by mayor Michael Bloomberg, managed a $US1 billion ($1.5 billion) fund.
The money was awarded by the U.S. Congress to pay claims stemming from the Ground Zero cleanup.
The fund paid only a total of $US320,000 ($369,000) to five workers with minor injuries.
Workers were livid.
"How do you justify earning $US275 million ($317 million) without a settlement or trial?" asked ex-NYPD detective John Walcott, who battled leukemia after working for months at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill, where debris was shipped.