Monday, July 23, 2007

Shame, Come Back, Shame

For these folks, shame left the building a long time ago

One of the high-priced lawyers who have sucked $47 million out of the $1 billion World Trade Center insurance fund is infamous for defending companies that manufactured Agent Orange, a pregnancy drug linked to cancer, and defective breast implants. James Tyrrell, a partner in the law firm Patton Boggs, is hailed in legal circles as the "master of disaster" and the "devil's advocate."

Another lawyer, Thomas Jones, serves simultaneously as secretary of the WTC Captive Insurance Co., which manages the $1 billion FEMA fund, and as partner in theChicago-based McDermott Will & Emery, the fund's legal counsel.

In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan last week, 9/11 responders blasted the Captive's mounting expenses - $75 million so far, including $47 million on law firms - and Jones' alleged "conflict of interest."

They charged the city-run WTC Captive is a cash cow for its employees, consultants and lawyers, and has "squandered" money that should go to 10,000 cops, firefighters and other workers with illnesses blamed on toxic exposure at Ground Zero. It has paid just $45,000 to a carpenter who fell off a ladder.
Documents obtained by The Post show that eight senior partners at McDermott, Will & Emery, including Thomas, can each bill the insurance fund $618 an hour. The partners first billed a "discounted" $550 an hour, but that fee was raised 6 percent in 2005, and 6 percent again last year.

Under the same agreement, junior partners in the firm can bill $389 to $484 an hour; associates $223 to $242 an hour, and paralegals $150 to $200 an hour.
Nice work if you can get it.

Mayor Bloomberg in another article stated:
"The truth of the matter is, Congress didn't set up a victims' compensation fund," the mayor said. "We'd like them to do that, we've asked for that; they set up a captive insurance company. And the insurance company can only pay out monies if somebody sues us in court and wins a judgment against us."

If that was true then why has $47 million gone to lawyers to defend the contractors and $45 thousand gone to payments?

And it sure seems a long way from what Mayor Bloomberg said previously:
In a joint press release on March 21, 2003 with Governor Pataki, announcing the legislation that allowed for the formation of the WTC Captive, Mayor Bloomberg is quoted as saying that "This legislation is necessary for the City to expedite the payment of claims relating to this effort."
Yet 6 years later only lawyers have been paid, and paid not to expedite but to impede payments to first responders and others who responded to search for survivors/recover bodies and clean up the debris from the 9/11 disaster.

It's bad enough that the EPA, (via a Bush political hack who overruled scientists at the request of Bush ), said the air was safe for these workers. Now the money alloted to them is being spent fighting their claims.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak