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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Law Firm to Get $25 Million Despite Ground Zero Screw Up

Filing 'foul-up' threatens GZ $$
The New York Post by SUSAN EDELMAN - December 29, 2010

An incredible blunder by their lawyers could cost Ground Zero responders a share of the $100 million deal settling claims against the Port Authority and private companies, The Post has learned. That's because the recently passed Zadroga Bill excludes people who sign on for other settlements after it becomes law. And that will happen as soon as it's signed by President Obama, perhaps as early as next week. The claims include actions filed against the PA, the company that brought Ground Zero debris to Staten Island's Great Kills landfill, and two contractors at the landfill. The 9/11 responders say they still haven't gotten the paperwork to accept the $47.5 million offer from the PA, $24.3 million from the landfill contractors, and $29 million from the barge operator.

A source told The Post the law firm representing most of them, Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, "screwed up" by not mailing out releases on the additional settlements months ago, and now it's too late. The Zadroga bill provides $2.8 billion in compensation for economic losses, but only to responders who sign on to additional settlements before it becomes law. Many may pass entirely on the settlement, since signing on after Zadroga takes effect would make them ineligible for the federal compensation -- although they'd still get a share of its $1.5 billion in medical payments. "My head is spinning," said former NYPD Detective Ernie Vallebuona, who suffers from lymphoma. Vallebuona, who is represented by Worby Groner, said, "My lawyers have not provided any advice." The firm's lead lawyer, Paul Napoli, insists the fact that his firm reached deals with the PA and the contractors is enough to satisfy the provisions of the Zadroga Bill. "All claims are released as of the date of the settlement agreements with the defendants," he said. Napoli's firm stands to collect nearly $25 million in fees -- or 25 percent -- from the additional settlements. Lawyers' fees for negotiating individual Zadroga settlements are capped at 10 percent. The PA and contractor claims are separate from about 10,000 suits against the city, which were settled for $625 million. The deal with the city required 95 percent of the plaintiffs to agree. The percentage needed for the PA and contractor suits is in the same ballpark, sources said. Steve Coleman, a PA spokesman, said the settlement is not final until a sufficient number of plaintiffs agree in writing. A release, he said, requires "a signature saying you're going to opt in." Other lawyers agreed. "A release is tendered when it is signed by the client and sent to the other side -- not when the lawyers make a deal," said Gregory Cannata, another lawyer who represents 9/11 workers. The Zadroga bill honors James Zadroga, a detective who became sick and died after working at Ground Zero.


Greedy Lawyer said...

As long as the lawyers get paid life is great!

Napoli Bern said...

Napoli Bern is one very bad group of lawyers.
I would go public but my life would be danger.

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2
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