Troy Rosasco, Partner, Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP, and Daniel J Hansen, Partner, Turley, Hansen & Partners, say Dr. John Howard's decision not to add cancer to the list of diseases covered under the 9/11 James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act of 2010 has nothing to do with scientific evidence, but rather as a cost-cutting measure designed to prevent those diagnosed with the disease to be compensated.
On July 26, the National Institutes for Occupational Health and Safety released its "First Periodic Review of Scientific and Medical Evidence Related to Cancer for the World Trade Center Health Program" as directed under the Zadroga Act. In his findings, Dr. Howard - who also oversees the VCF program - stated there was no scientific evidence linking exposure to toxins at Ground Zero to cancer. He said other exposures associated with cancer - smoking, diet, genetic predispositions - cannot be linked to one event, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The law firm says Dr. Howard's conclusions are premature because other entities are still collecting data to see if there is a causal relationship between exposure to toxins at Ground Zero and cancer. The published review acknowledged that research has been ongoing by the New York Fire Department, the FDNY World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence and the FDNY WTC Center; Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's World Trade Center Health Registry.
"With all due respect to Dr. Howard, this decision is all about money and not about either science or compassion for the victims of 9/11," Mr. Rosasco said. "Quite simply, the $2.775 billion allocated by Congress is not nearly enough to cover medical costs and compensation for nearly 20,000 potential claimants when cancer is included."
Mr. Rosasco cited data from the New York State Workers' Compensation Board, and a recent federal litigation settlement conclusively recognized a link between Ground Zero toxic exposures and various cancers. "Even individual doctors working within Dr. Howard's WTC Medical Treatment Program have linked my clients' cancers to their WTC exposures - this decision is an insult to the common sense of all New Yorkers who have attended far too many WTC-related funerals."
The findings come on the arrival of Sheila Birnbaum, Special Master, 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, who will host three town hall meetings in the tri-state area from July 27 to August 2. "Given the decision today by Dr. Howard that cancers will not be covered by the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, these upcoming town hall meetings will be especially important for the 9/11 survivors who want to be heard," Mr. Hansen said.
Mr. Hansen urges those who attend the town hall meetings to challenge Dr. Howard's findings, as many first responders have passed away as the result of 9/11-related illnesses. On July 15, Steven Mosiello, a member of the FDNY who was down at the WTC site after the September 11, 2001 attacks, died of esophageal cancer. The FDNY said the exposure to carcinogens in the air at Ground Zero contributed to Mr. Mosiello's death.
"We urge victims to request that Ms. Birnbaum not exclude cancers from the Victim Compensation Fund until after reports are released for the cancer studies conducted by Mount Sinai, the New York City Fire Department, the World Trade Center Health Registry, and the New York State Health Department," Mr. Hansen said.
For more information, call 1(855) WTC-INFO or visit www.zadrogaclaimsinfo.com.