Fat Cat Trial Lawyers Benefit The Most From 9/11 Health Care Bill

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (C) speaks to celebrate passage of the James Zadroga Bill while flanked by (L-R) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) December 23, 2010 on the edge of Ground Zero in New York City. Congress passed the $4.3 billion bill to further healthcare to people who became sick after working and living in the World Trade Center dust in the aftermath of the September 2001 terror attacks. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Fat cat trial lawyers who are also, no doubt, big money Democrat contributors to boot.

The law firm that pocketed more than $100 million suing the city over Sept. 11 is trying to cash in on the just-passed Zadroga 9/11 health bill.

The hunt was on even before the House put its final stamp of approval on the $4.3 billion James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act last Wednesday – and long before President Obama signs it next week.

Ads began popping up touting Zadroga-Act.com with the tease: “WTC Compensation Fund: Free Consultation. Call Us Today.” Clicking on that link, though, doesn’t take you to a do-gooder advice site. It leads to the website of Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, the lawyers who represented most of the 10,000 9/11 plaintiffs and grabbed the bulk of the $150 million in contingency fees – about 25% – from the $625 million settlement.

A source said the firm also sent text messages to the phones of their 9/11 clients. Responders found the quick strike for new clients and paydays unsavory.

“Ten million each, or whatever they each cleared, wasn’t enough for them?” said John Feal, a Ground Zero construction worker and leading advocate.

A source familiar with the legal dealings was disgusted the firm is using the Zadroga name to drum up business: “They really have no shame,” the source said.

Another expert involved in settlements was more charitable, but agreed what’s going on looks like “ambulance chasing.”

“It’s not unethical and it’s perfectly legal, but I’m a little surprised,” the legal eagle said. “It’s bad judgment, and it’s what gets lawyers in trouble with the public.”

Marc Bern, one of the top partners at the firm and a veteran class-action warrior, reacted angrily to the suggestion the speedy client-seeking is unseemly. He said the online ads didn’t start running until the House voted on the bill – but the firm clearly was prepared to jump.

Mr. Bern, by the way, gave $85,000 to Democrats in the 2008 election cycle.

I’m as sympathetic to 9/11 victims as the next person, but at what point have we stopped doing the right thing and begun servicing a sympathetic new victim group that is being manipulated by the trial lawyer industry for profit? The 9/11 was nearly a decade ago. In reality, 9/11 victims have been well cared for. But politically they are a sympathetic and unassailable constituency, and the trial lawyers are going to keep beating that horse until it’s dead.

It’s disgusting, really. I don’t have a problem with profits. I do have a problem with unscrupulous hucksters manipulating the nation’s sympathies to cash in on spending our federal government can ill afford.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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