NYC Corporation Counsel Urges Congress To Re-Open September 11 Victim Compensation Fund
April 2, 2008
Two House Judiciary subcommittees recently held a hearing on the economic losses suffered by those who have health problems related to the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC). Several witnesses, including NYC Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo, testified in support of re-opening the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
The Fund closed in December 2003, well before many people with WTC-related health problems became ill. It paid more than $7 billion in federal taxpayer dollars to 5,560 people who lost loved ones or were injured in the attacks, including many rescue and recovery workers with respiratory problems. In return, the claimants agreed not to file law suits against any U.S. party for their loss. Currently, New York City is being sued by 11,000 rescue and recovery workers who may not have met the eligibility requirements or filed claims with the Fund before the deadline.
According to Cardozo, NYC believes the only fair solution to this litigation is to re-open the Victim Compensation Fund, and to indemnify the City and its contractors for any liability that might arise from people who do not choose to take part in the re-opened Fund. Re-opening the Fund was a key recommendation of Addressing the Health Impacts of 9/11 , the special report
commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg that was released last year. In his testimony , Cardozo reminded committee members that NYC supports the HR 3543 , federal legislation that would re-open the Fund. The House bill now has 75 co-sponsors.
Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who co-chaired the hearing with Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), noted in a statement issued before the hearing, "The federal government has a moral and legal obligation to compensate the living victims of 9/11, to provide for their health, and to attempt to make them whole for their subsequent financial losses." In addition to Mr. Cardozo, Kenneth Feinberg, Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and Dr. Jim Melius, Administrator of the New York State Laborers' Health and Safety Trust Fund, testified in support of re-opening the Fund.
Read Michael Cardozo's press statement