Troy Rosasco, Partner, Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP, and Daniel J Hansen, Partner, Turley, Hansen & Partners, say they support the decision by Sheila Birnbaum, Special Master, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, to expand the coverage area for those who were sickened by toxins at the Ground Zero area. Both Mr. Rosasco and Mr. Hansen say these people deserve to receive compensation after suffering from physical illnesses as a result of their exposure to the carcinogens.
On August 29, Ms. Birnbaum announced that the 9/11 VCF coverage area will expand 10 blocks, from Reade Street to Canal Street. This will allow thousands more who lived and worked in the area to be eligible for the $2.8 billion fund.
"We are pleased to see Special Master Birnbaum expand the coverage area beyond Reade Street to Canal Street (which includes much of Chinatown) , where many of those were exposed to the Ground Zero toxins at their residences and workplaces," Mr. Rosasco said. "Those people who lived and worked in that area were exposed to significant toxins from Ground Zero and therefore have as much right to the fund."
The fund is expected to open on October 3. Although the coverage area has expanded, the VCF will not cover cancers, but will include lung and other respiratory-related illnesses. On July 26, Dr. John Howard, who oversees the VCF program, stated in his findings that 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. In addition, those who suffer only from mental or emotional injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder are ineligible for the fund.
"Although we don't believe the fund should have disallowed those with cancers and post-traumatic stress disorders from collecting any compensation, we believe Ms. Birnbaum's decision will provide the help those people in the expanded coverage area need, as well as the financial compensation they justly deserve," Mr. Hansen said. "We also hope that Dr. Howard and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health re-examine its decision next year, when further scientific studies are published, which we hope will conclusively establish the link between airborne toxins from the World Trade Center site and cancer. That should be a top priority."
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