What Will Happen to Napoli Bern 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Clients During Current Law Firm Crisis?

Law Firm Crack

As reported in the New York Law Journal and the New York Post, the 9/11 law firm of Napoli Bern “is facing implosion and a court-appointed receiver has been designated to oversee firm finances”.  According to New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten:

“Right now this firm [Napoli Bern] is in a state of total crisis” and “It is on the verge of going into free fall to complete disaster” and “the depth of hatred in this instance is extraordinary”.  

According to the Law Journal, this is because of a brutal breach of contract suit between managing partners Paul Napoli and Marc Bern, among other pending lawsuits against the law firm.  Justice Bransten has appointed former Supreme Court Justice Ira Warshawsky, an attorney of impeccable integrity, as “receiver” to oversee all firm assets and finances pending the conclusion of the multiple lawsuits and firm infighting. A receiver is an:

Independent, impartial party appointed by a court to receive, manage, and preserve (1) a disputed property which is the subject matter of a court case, pending final disposition of the lawsuit, or (2) an endangered property for the benefit of those [clients] who are entitled to it.

The Napoli Bern crisis is an extremely sad circumstance which unfortunately could have a substantial impact on the current claims of 9/11 victims the firm represents before the federal Victim Compensation Fund.

So what will happen to all the current Napoli Bern clients with pending claims before the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?  Unfortunately, my prediction is that many will flee to other 9/11 lawyers in droves.

When a law firm is perceived to be in free fall, many of the law firm’s attorneys abandon ship for more secure positions at other law firms.  The law firm in “crisis” then has significant trouble recruiting new lawyers to replace the abandoning lawyers. When this happens, the law firm in crisis cannot keep up with the legal work required by current client cases and this leads to the “implosion” predicted by the Law Journal. Let us hope the the receiver, Judge Warshawsky, can quickly stabilize the law firm so that client's are protected.

John Feal, the head of the non-profit 9/11 Victim and First Responders Fealgood Foundation, has publicly asked for an investigation by authorities into the issue of Napoli Bern expense improprieties regarding 9/11 victim clients, according to the NY Post. 

Where this mess goes from here is anyone’s guess.  However, the priority for all of us should be to make sure the 9/11 victims are not victimized again by the ongoing Napoli Bern litigation.

Registration Deadline for 9/11 Cancer Claims Only Days Away

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The registration deadline for responders and survivors who have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer is fast approaching.  The October 12, 2014 deadline is only days away. Anyone who was diagnosed on or before October 12, 2012 must register as soon as possible. By registering with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, you are preserving your right to file a future claim. The 9/11 VCF provides a full list of deadline dates pertaining to 9/11 cancers and other illnesses. 

Over 2,500 rescue and recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer due to the exposure from World Trade Center toxins and debris and the number continues to rise. Even if you have not been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer or any other 9/11 related illness, it is important to register with the VCF. It is also important to enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program provides free monitoring and health care to rescue and recovery workers as well as survivors who were exposed to the toxic dust from Ground Zero. 

After an examination of your symptoms, the World Trade Center Health Program will determine whether or not your cancer or any other illnesses you have are 9/11 related. If they make such a determination, then your illnesses will be certified as such. Certification is an eligibility requirement by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Both the 9/11 VCF and the World Trade Center Health Program are funded under the Zadroga Act.

The WTCHP is expected to close in 2016 which will leave many with 9/11 related illnesses without free care.  With the rising number of 9/11 cancer cases, many advocates and other government officials have been pushing for the extension of the Zadroga Bill to continue through 2041.  

Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers and whether you are eligible to apply to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

 

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post. 

9/11 Cancers Claim the Lives of Three Retired FDNY Firefighters on Same Day

 

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On Monday, September 22, three retired FDNY Firefighters lost their battle with 9/11 related cancers all within a few hours of each other. Daniel Heglund, Howard Bischoff and Robert Leaver were all  first responders at Ground Zero and as a result were exposed to toxic dust and debris.  Like many other first responders, they were diagnosed with cancer due to their exposure.

All three had different types of 9/11 related cancers. Leaver was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003. Bischoff died of colon cancer and Heglund succumbed to esophageal cancer. The toxic air from 9/11 has lead to more than 2,500 Ground Zero workers to a diagnosis of World Trade Center related cancers. It has been 13 years since 9/11 and the effects are still very present.

The untimely death of these firefighters have given lawmakers even more of a reason to extend the 9/11 Bill. The Zadroga Bill is expected to expire in 2016 which will leave many first responders, area workers and survivors with 9/11 related cancers and other illnesses without free medical care. Both the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program are funded under the Zadroga Bill. If you have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer before October 12, 2012, the deadline to register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is October 12, 2014. 

Even if you have not been diagnosed with any 9/11 related illnesses, but were exposed to World Trade Center toxins and debris between the dates of September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, you should still register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to protect your right to file a future claim. You can also enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program for yearly monitoring and check ups. Should you be diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer or other illness, the WTCHP will provide you with free care.

Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers and whether you are eligible to apply to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

 

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

Hillary Clinton Urges Congress to Extend Zadroga Act - To Continue the Health and Compensation Benefits to Responders, Rescue Workers, and other Victims - Including 9/11-Related Cancers

Daniel J. Hansen and Hillary Clinton

Turley Hansen & Partners attorney Daniel J. Hansen expresses his thanks to Hillary Clinton for her devotion and support of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared in lower Manhattan as the special guest for the fundraiser sponsored by the New York State AFL-CIO and the non-profit 9/11 Health Watch, calling on Congress to pass legislation to extend the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act

Addressing hundreds of union members and advocates for 9/11 victims at the lower Manhattan headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers, Mrs. Clinton  remarked on the need for action, “Last week with the anniversary, we mourned. This week we mobilize.”

Mrs. Clinton, who was a United States senator for New York when she visited the site 13 years ago, described what she witnessed to be “as close to hell as I can imagine any of us experiencing” and that “watching firefighters break through the wall of black smoke, some of them dragging their axes behind them, it was just a scene out of 'Dante’s Inferno.’” “All you had to do was be there and you knew that there were going to be consequences to the people who had survived and the people who had conducted rescues and the people who were going to be there as long as it took to rebuild,” said Mrs. Clinton.

The benefits provided under the World Trade Center Health Program are set to expire in October 2015, while the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund is set to close on October 2016.  Mrs. Clinton noted, “The price of passage was a so-called sunset clause, and it will come due.”   “It’s absolutely crucial that we muster the same passion and pressure to extend the law that helped pass is it in the first place,” said Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton thanked New York members of Congress, including not only members from her own party such as Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and Representative Jerrold Nadler, but also Seaford Republican Rep. Peter King for recognizing that this is not a “partisan issue,” but rather an “American issue.”

Just today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from across the country introduced the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  The new bill would continue the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for 25 more years, through 2041.  The new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would continue the World Trade Center Health Program that provides medical care and treatment for 9/11-related conditions to the over 60,000 first responders and to the more than 7,000 injured and ill survivors, and continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide compensation for economic damages and losses for individuals who become ill from the toxins at Ground Zero.

Extension of the Zadroga Act would avoid the devastating consequence of the loss of benefits by the responders and survivors who are still battling serious health crises resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero.  There are more than 30,000 9/11 responders and survivors who suffer from an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, with over two-thirds of those with more than one illness.

Extending the Zadroga Act—including the WTC Health Program and September 11th Victims Compensation Fund—would provide a critical lifeline for many, particularly when the number of 9/11-related cancer cases suffered by responders and rescue workers continues to grow.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 3,000 responders and survivors suffer from 9/11-related cancers—including prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.

Turley, Hansen & Partners is a proud to have been a sponsor of the recent AFL-CIO 9/11 Health Watch fundraiser.  A special thanks is also given to Secretary Clinton, for all of her efforts and support.

Hillary Rodham Clinton to Attend Fundraiser to Benefit 9/11 Health Watch

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A benefit fundraiser, sponsored by the New York State AFL-CIO for the non-profit 9/11 Health Watch organization, will be held on September 16, 2014 in New York City in commemoration of the 13th anniversary of 9/11.  Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in attendance as special guest.

9/11 Health Watch is an organization that closely watches the operation and management of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to ensure that first responders and survivors get the proper medical care and compensation for their 9/11 related illnesses under the bill. Both the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program are all federally funded under the Zadroga Act.

 For tickets or more information about attending the 9/11 Health Watch fundraiser click here for details.

Should you have any questions about 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund or need help filing your VCF claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

 

Advocates to Hold Press Conference to Extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

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As we come up on the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a press conference will be held at Ground Zero on September 8, 2014 at 11:15 a.m.  All first responders, survivors and union leaders are invited to attend and rally in a fight to extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  The press conference will be facilitated by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerrold Nader and Rep. Peter King on this very important issue. Both the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program are scheduled to expire in October, 2016.  Senator Gilliabrand and other advocates want to see the Zadroga Act extended until 2041.

Even after 13 years, many are just now being diagnosed 9/11 related illnesses. The most concerning is the amount of cancer cases that have been surfacing among responders and survivors recently. Many will still need care for their 9/11 related illnesses way after the program expires. For example, many 9/11 cancers may not be diagnosed until after 2016. This is just one of the reasons why it needs to continue. First Responders and survivors should be able to have monitoring and care of their 9/11 related cancer and other illnesses throughout their lifetime.

Turley, Hansen & Partners fully supports the extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  Attorney Troy Rosasco says, ““I applaud our local elected officials who are introducing this bill to ensure that the 9/11 heroes who were exposed to these airborne toxins at the Ground Zero site and became ill as a result of that exposure will continue to receive the medical treatment and financial compensation that they deserve beyond 2016. Every week another Ground Zero worker is diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer.  We all have a moral obligation to protect these selfless heroes who are sick now or will become sick in the future”.

 

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post. 

9/11 Attorney Troy Rosasco Discusses Zadroga Claims with LXBN TV

As we approach the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, there is still a lingering effect on those who not only still suffer from the loss of loved ones, but also from the numerous illnesses caused by the exposure to toxins in the air which remained for quite some time after 9/11.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss 9/11 Zadroga claims with Colin O'Keefe of LXBN. In the interview, I explain how the attacks of 9/11 are still impacting recovery workers and their families, and what we're doing in trying to help them. 

Today, many 9/11 first responders, survivors and area workers have been suffering with breathing complications such as chronic sinusitis, COPD and other pulmonary diseases. Alarmingly, there has been an increasing number of 9/11 related cancers. They have been surfacing over the past few years in staggering numbers among those exposed. Since the ruling that was passed back in October of 2012 to include cancer as a 9/11 covered condition under the Zadroga Act, there are now 62 different types of cancers recognized as a 9/11 related.

There is a registration deadline for cancer claims approaching for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and were in and around the “crash zone area” between the dates of September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, you may be entitled to compensation under the Zadroga Act. You must register by October 12, 2014 in order to protect yourself in filing a future 9/11 related cancer claim.

 

Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers or need help filing your VCF claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

IMPORTANT – Do not register yourself if you have retained an attorney to assist you in the filing of your claim. Your attorney should have already registered your claim. Multiple registration numbers will delay the processing of your claim. Check with your attorney to verify your registration status.  If you are a current client of Turley Hansen & Partners, please rest assured that your claim has been timely registered.

 

 

Disabled 9/11 Survivors and Families May be Entitled to Tax Break: IRS Provides Clarification in Recent Update on How to Claim Exemptions

 

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Last week the IRS updated its public guidance  on the "Tax Relief for Victims of Terrorists Attacks" in order to ensure that all 9/11 survivors and their families are aware that they may be entitled to a tax break on their disability payments including social security disability.

The IRS has been under some scrutiny lately by 9/11 advocates. They claim that the IRS may not have done enough to ensure that the 9/11 community was aware of these tax breaks. Advocates as well as Senator Gillibrand have been publicly encouraging survivors and families of the deceased who have died of their illnesses in the last 3 years to take advantage of these tax benefits they are entitled to.

The law, which was passed shortly after the 9/11 attacks, states that disability income due to an act of terrorism is not taxable. Many had not been aware of the tax break because the IRS did not make it clear in its public guidance. As a result, many victims were left without refunds. Senator Gillibrand  in particular has been tireless in advocating for the 9/11 Community. She contacted IRS commissioner Koskinen who quickly took action and had a publication cover sheet updated with the proper guidance information.

The update makes it easier to understand the law. It clarifies how to go about filing and the rules that apply. Needless to say, Senator Gillibrand has won another battle for both 9/11 responders, survivors and the families of those who died because of their 9/11 related illnesses and injuries. Now that the information is available, they can take advantage of the tax breaks.

Under the Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act, the estates of the deceased would receive $10,000 in the form of refunds or tax liability forgiveness for taxes paid between the year 2000 and 2002. Individuals still suffering from 9/11 related illnesses or who who have died since 2002 are still eligible for the tax benefit.

The IRS has a designated phone line to answer any questions you may have about the Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act. Call 1-866-562-5227 to find out if you may be eligible for this tax break.

 

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

Important October 12, 2014 Deadline Looms at 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as Cancer Claims Continue to Rise Rapidly

 

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It will soon be too late for many cancer sufferers to register for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).  Individuals diagnosed with 9/11-related eligible cancers (other than prostate or “rare cancers”) on or before October 12, 2012 must register no later than October 12, 2014 to preserve their right to file for a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund award.  This deadline also applies to claims filed on behalf of deceased cancer victims. 

As this deadline approaches, the media is taking notice of the skyrocketing number of 9/11-related cancer victims. The New York Post reported that over 2,500 responders, workers, downtown residents, and visitors have developed cancer since their exposure to the hellish cocktail of dense smoke, noxious gases, dust, and debris that plagued downtown Manhattan in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. 

In a press statement released last week, the World Trade Center Health Data Center confirmed 1,646 certified cancer cases documented from 2002 to present.  The FDNY maintains a separate database and counts 863 firefighters and EMS personnel with cancer.  When tallied together, the total number of 9/11 certified cancer cases for first responders, volunteers and “crash site” residents’ rises to 2,509.  As of June 30, the VCF has received 1,145 cancer compensation claims from both first responders and non-responders.   It is expected that many more cancer victims will come forward between now and the upcoming October deadline.

In addition to October 12, 2014, there are other important VCF deadlines on the horizon.  Those diagnosed with prostate cancer on or before October 21, 2013 must register by October 21, 2015.  Those diagnosed with a “rare cancer” (as specified in the list of eligible cancers) on or before February 18, 2014 must register by February 18, 2016.  Individuals diagnosed with any eligible cancer after its respective deadline (or other eligible condition) have up to two years from the date of diagnosis to register, but no later than October 3, 2016.

If you or a loved one was in downtown Manhattan or any area where debris was handled between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, it is not too late to register with the VCF for recently diagnosed eligible conditions including cancer.  Should you have any questions about registering or filing a claim with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund under the Zadroga Act,  call us at 855-WTC-INFO, click the chat button, or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

IMPORTANT – Do not register yourself if you have retained an attorney to assist you in the filing of your claim. Your attorney should have already registered your claim. Multiple registration numbers will delay the processing of your claim. Check with your attorney to verify your registration status.  If you are a current client of Turley Hansen & Partners, please rest assured that your claim has been timely registered.

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Announces Program Statistics: Progress Continues, But What May Be Holding Up Your Claim?

 

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Last week, Special Master Sheila Birnbaum of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund released the program’s claim statistics. As of June 30th, 15,600 eligibility claims have been submitted. Eligibility is the first step of the claim process in which the VCF determines if an individual meets all the qualifications required to be approved to apply to the fund. Once eligibility is determined by the VCF and all of the necessary documentation and paperwork is submitted to support any monetary loss as well as the pain and suffering from certified 9/11 related illnesses, then the VCF can move forward to make a decision on how much a Claimant will be awarded.

Although much progress has been made in the speed of claims handling, the report clearly outlines some of the issues the VCF has been coming up against in preventing them from making just an eligibility decision. Out of the 15,600 claims that have been submitted only about ½ of those claims have the proper documentation. 

In order to be compensated for 9/11 related illnesses or injuries, an individual will need to be determined “eligible” by the VCF by meeting certain criteria. There are 6,901 eligibility Claims that are on hold right now due to missing paperwork and information. The VCF will send correspondence to your law firm to alert them should these items be missing.

Below is a quick outline of what common issues may be holding up a claim and how to remedy these particular situations in order to get eligibility approval.

Missing signed Exhibit A – This is the authorization for release of medical records form. This form allows the VCF to obtain information about a Claimant’s eligible conditions. This is easily rectified by simply printing out the form, signing and initialing where appropriate and sending to the VCF.

Claims missing proper proof documentation – The VCF requires Claimants to provide proof of presence at the disaster site. The preferred form of proof that the VCF likes to see is witness affidavits. The VCF requires only 2 people that can attest to your presence in the disaster zone. Click here for a complete list of proof documentation accepted by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Claim missing information in regards to prior 9/11 Lawsuit – If you were part of a prior 9/11 related lawsuit, the VCF requires that all Claimants provide documentation showing that the case was settled before January 2, 2012 and the award amount. The VCF does offset this amount when making an award decision on your claim.

Claim missing NIOSH certification of illnesses - The VCF will only deem a Claimant eligible if thier illnesses have been certified by NIOSH (National Institute for Safety and Health). The fastest and easiest way to have your illnesses certified by NIOSH is by attending the World Trade Center Health Program. At the WTCHP, you will recieve free care and the doctors specialize in 9/11 related illnesses. There is the alternative to get certification through private physician forms, however this process may take longer.

For the full VCF program statistics report, click here.

If you would like to know more about the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and if you are eligible to apply, please feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

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